Iran Recruits Afghan Refugees to Fight for Regime in Syria

(Wall Street Journal) Farnaz Fassihi - Iran has been recruiting thousands of Afghan refugees to fight in Syria, offering $500 a month and Iranian residency to help the Assad regime beat back rebel forces, according to Afghans and Western officials. The Revolutionary Guards organize, train, and command the Shiite militias sent to Syria. On Thursday, a large funeral procession was held in the northwestern city of Mashhad, near the Afghan border, for four Afghan refugees killed in Syria. Reports of funerals for the Afghan recruits who die in Syria began to emerge in November. Recently, there have been more frequent reports of such deaths in Iranian media. Gen. Hossein Hamedani, a senior Guards commander involved in planning war strategy in Syria, said last week that Iran had trained an extra 130,000 soldiers ready for dispatch. The 130,000 was an apparent reference to all the Shiite militias including Iranians, Hizbullah, Afghans and other foreign fighters. A Western official in Iran said recruiting Afghans was part of a shifting strategy to send poor foot soldiers to the front lines from a community with little clout to minimize casualties among Hizbullah and Guards members.

2014-05-16 00:00:00

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