Tags: Afghanistan | Iran | Middle East | Syria | War on Terrorism | Afghanistan | mercenaries

Reports: Afghan Mercenaries Join Tehran's War in Syria

By    |   Wednesday, 04 March 2015 11:15 PM

One of the most prominent foreign "mercenaries" of the Iranian regime fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad was killed in fighting Saturday in the southern Syrian province of Daraa, Lebanon's Ya Libnan website reported Wednesday.

He was identified as Ali Reza Tavassoli, "an Afghan who commanded a brigade of Afghans dispatched by the Iranian regime to Syria," according to the website, and he was described as a confidant of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Qods Force.

The Revolutionary Guard has been involved in recruiting and training thousands of Afghan Shiite refugees to fight on behalf of the Assad regime. Last May, The Wall Street Journal reported that since November 2013, reports of funerals for Afghan recruits killed in Syria began appearing in the Iranian media and had become increasingly frequent.

The Afghan refugees — one of the most poor and vulnerable groups in Iran — had been lured to the frontlines with stipends of $500 a month and the promise of Iranian residency.

U.N. officials said last year there are close to 1 million registered Afghan refugees in Iran. But Human Rights Watch estimated at the time that in addition, there are as many as 2 million unregistered Afghan migrants there.

They are not permitted to officially work or attend school, and many of them earn meager salaries as construction workers or day laborers. This makes them vulnerable to Iranian military recruiters.

One Afghan who did go to Syria was Reza Ismaeli, a 19-year-old Afghan refugee sent to defend the Shiite shrine of Sayeda Zeinab in suburban Damascus.

Ismaeli was captured and beheaded by Syrian rebels, according to Iranian media accounts.

Pictures of him show a teenager in military fatigues and dark sunglasses posing with a machine gun in front of a tank. Eventually, he is shown with his decapitated, blood-drenched head being held by a Syrian rebel soldier, according to the Journal.

An Iranian battalion found his lifeless torso and sent it back to Ismaeli's parents in Iran.

In October, CNN showed interviews with four men in eastern Afghanistan who had returned from military training in Iran. Some of them said they were attracted by the opportunity to fight against the United States.

"We want to go [to Syria] for two reasons: One is to fight against those who are being assisted by Americans in Syria and secondly, Iran pays us to fight in Syria," one said. "Those who fight against Assad [sic] regime are America's slaves. That is why we want to fight them and kill them."

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One of the most prominent foreign "mercenaries" of the Iranian regime fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad was killed in fighting Saturday in the southern Syrian province of Daraa, Lebanon's Ya Libnan website reported Wednesday.
Afghanistan, mercenaries, Iran, Syria, Afghanis, Tehran, Syrian President Bashar Assad
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2015-15-04
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 11:15 PM
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