A number of refugees who recently returned from Iran claim that Iranian officials are sending Afghan refugees to Syria to fight for Bashar Assad’s regime.
The return refugees also said Iran’s intelligence ministry promise Afghans money and permanent residency in exchange for them going to Syria to fight.
According to some return refugees, there are hundreds of unclaimed bodies of Afghans lying in Tehran’s mortuary. They said these are the bodies of men who died fighting in Syria.
Around three million Afghans fled to Iran over the past few years as refugees. Some of the return refugees however tell harrowing tales of Afghans on the battlefields in Syria.
One young man who has returned to Afghanistan did so after Iranian intelligence officials allegedly tried to recruit him to fight in Syria for Assad.
“I worked in a shop in Tehran. An Iranian official came every day to the store and was telling me that they want to send me to the Syrian war. They said if I was killed in that war, I will be martyred and if I returned alive I will be given lots of money,” said Ahamd Qurbani, an Afghan refugee who recently returned to Afghanistan.
He added: “They told me I could go to Afghanistan and make a better life there if I returned alive from the war. I told them that I was not interested to make troubles in another country while our country itself is dealing with lots of challenges.”
Iranian officials allegedly train Afghan refugees to fight in a suburb of Tehran and then send them to Syria as part of a special unit, called Fatimion, which is made up of Afghan refugees, said return refugees.
These young men said that they had friends who had been sent to Syria by the Iranian government, but only one of them returned alive – albeit wounded.
“One of my colleagues and his friend were sent to Syria war by an Iranian organization in Tehran. He was wounded in the war and he returned to Iran, while his friend was killed there in Syria,” said another Afghan refugee, Mohammadullah.
The return refugees said the Iranian government promises Afghan Shia refugees long-term citizenship along with a monthly salary of 2,000,000 Rial (about 4,400 Afs) and then send them to the frontline of the Syrian war. As a result most Afghans are killed in battle, said the return refugees.
“In Tehran, we witnessed the return of a dead Afghan from the Syria war on a daily basis. They were buried in a special ceremony and they were called martyrs for keeping Zainab’s Haram,” said Akbar Rahmani, who also recently returned to the country.
Another returnee, Sadiq, said: “Currently, bodies of 150 Afghan are in a mortuary in Tehran. They were all killed in the Syrian war. The Iranian officials are waiting for their relatives and friends to come and take the bodies.”
Investigations show that most fighters who participate in the Syrian war for Assad are Shia Muslims.
Daesh, which has been a long-standing problem in Syria, has in the past few months emerged in Afghanistan.
The group recently claimed responsibility for the Dehmazang bombing, which claimed the lives of over 80 people.
The group reportedly said they organized the attack because Afghan Shia Muslims fight them in the Syrian war.
The participation of Afghans in the Syrian war has come under sharp criticism both at home and by human rights organizations. However, Shia clerics in Herat have defended this move.
“We believe that jihad should be done against Daesh because this movement has been made by infidel countries. No matter that our brothers are fighting in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan or any other country. A Muslim should help other Muslims when called for help.
This is an Islamic act,” said Ahmad Ali Jebraieli, a Shia Mullah from Herat.
Human rights organizers have also expressed their concern about the presence of Afghans in Syria’s war. The Afghan government earlier said that they do not have any proof that shows Afghan refugees are taking part in the war.
Meanwhile a number of lawyers have said that sending Afghan refugees to Syria benefits the Iranian government.
“Misusing refugees by host states is against international laws. Sending refugees for these kinds of tasks is against the Geneva convention,” said Mohammad Rafi Naderi, a lawyer.
The Iranian Embassy in Kabul has said that these men who go to Syria to fight do so at their own discretion and that his country has not forced any Afghan refugee to go to war.
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