NEW YORK: On Friday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has employed thousands of Afghans, reportedly some by force, to fight in Syria’s war alongside forces dedicated to President Bashar al-Assad.
Peter Bouckaert who is emergencies director at the New York based HRW stated:
“Iran has not just offered Afghan refugees and migrants incentives to fight in Syria, but several said they were threatened with deportation back to Afghanistan unless they did,”
“Faced with this bleak choice, some of these Afghan men and boys fled Iran for Europe.” Added Peter
The government of Iran stated that the Fatemiyon Brigade which comprises of Afghan recruits, are volunteers who are responsible for the defending and protection of the sacred sites in Syria and Iraq against the extremists. By extremists it was reffered to the like of those of militant Islamic State (IS) group.
According to reports, the recruited Afghans have been offered residency and a monthly salary in order to fight for Iran.
The news of residency and salary was denied by the Islamic Republic which stated that it does not have any boots on the ground and insisted that its commanders and generals act as military advisers in Syria and Iraq.
On the other hand, there are funerals which are regularly held across Iran for the fighters from Iran, Afghanistan, and sometimes Pakistan.
According to Human Right Watch, Iran hosts an estimated three million Afghans where many of those have fled maltreatment and repeated sessions of armed conflict in their homeland.
Except the 950,000, Iran has denied refugee status and has also declared them unqualified for asylum.
The proofs of coercion have been attested by at least two dozen Afghans who were interviewed by the watchdog. The recruits stated that they or their relatives had been recruited or coerced by the Iranian authorities to fight in Syria.
According to six of the recruits, Iranian forces trained them or their relatives in military camps near Tehran and Shiraz in 2015.
Two of the six had joined voluntarily, while the other four said they or their relatives had been coerced or forced to fight.
Afghans were fighting in many areas of Syria, including Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Deir Ezzor, Hama, Latakia, and in areas near the Syrian border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, they said.