The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has published an article about the new promotional video clip the Iranian regime has issued in an attempt to recruit Afghan nationals to join the war in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The six-minute clip has been made and broadcast by Ofogh TV, a state television channel. Fars news agency is another state media agency that has shown and distributed the clip.
The NCRI state that the clip has been dedicated to the “unsung heroes of the earth, the renowned of the skies, and the combatants of the Fatemiyoun Division”. It “includes scenes of a man from Afghanistan glossing over photos of Afghans who have died in the Syrian conflict. He is encouraged by a young boy and girl into going to the war front”. The Afghan then puts an army uniform on in front of a picture of Ali Khamenei, the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader. On his arm is the Fatemiyoun militia emblem.
Later in the clip, someone else sings a propaganda song with Afghan lyrics, some of which include: “To the raging enemy we are the sharp sword. We are from the Islamic nation and the country of Afghanistan. We are the mentors of conviction and we are the adherents of the Quran. We are the heirs to the blood, the heirs to the martyrs. We will fill the world with the resonance of our fight, of our steadfastness and firmness, and of our will and determination.”
Someone places a headband with the words “Defender of the Holy Shrine” onto the head of a teenage recruit.
The Iranian regime claims that it is involved in the Syrian war to “defend the sacred shrines.” The majority of the Iranian regime’s casualties are in the Aleppo region – almost 300 kilometers away from the holy Shiite shrines near Damascus.
The network of the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) recently obtained intelligence from within the IRGC indicating that more than 70,000 of its Revolutionary Guards, Regular Army units and foreign militias have been sent to fight for Assad in Syria. Approximately 15,000 to 20,000 of these are members of an Afghan militia.
Shahin Gobadi of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the NCRI, commenting on the latest propaganda clip said the following:
“Syria has turned into a total quagmire and strategic impasse for the Iranian regime. Ali Khamenei, the regime’s supreme leader, views an end to Assad’s rule as a red line for the survival of the clerical regime. While the Iranian youths refrain from taking part in this criminal war, Khamenei is left with no choice but to dispatch his veteran IRGC forces and commanders to Syria, even though up to 50 IRGC Brigadier Generals have been killed in Syria so far. He is also trying to deploy more troops to the war front, and dispatch more of his non-Iranian mercenaries, in particular Afghan refugees as cannon fodder.”
“Despite all of his crimes and mobilization of all of the military, financial, and propaganda capabilities of the regime, there has been no breakthrough. Instead the Iranian regime’s casualties are steadily rising and this has led to scorn for the regime and its isolation even among Afghan refugees in Iran to a point where Khamenei personally met with the families of the regime’s Afghan mercenaries who were killed in Syria to boost their morale on March 28.”
The regime has had difficulties recruiting Iranians to fight in Syria after the recent major defeats and high casualties, so has therefore turned to recruiting Afghan refugees. They have used various tactics to recruit these Afghans, even threatening them with execution.
On 8th April, the NCRI said that the Qods Force offices in Tehran, among others, coerce or entice Afghans living in Iran to get them to fight in Syria. The IRGC use their extreme poverty and have agreed to pardon those with death sentences if they volunteer to fight in Syria.
The NCRI said that in April, an IRGC general confirmed “that the Iranian regime is burying its Afghan mercenaries who have died fighting to keep Assad in power as incognitos in Iran’s cemeteries”. These unceremonious burials seem to be a way of covering up the high number of Afghan casualties.
The regimes official statistics indicate that there are at least 1.49 million Afghan refugees in Iran. Between 800,000 and 1 million do not have documents or ID and have no work. This means that they have no property, and according to the regulations of the Interior Ministry, have no personal or legal identity. The NCRI say that they are not just below the poverty line, but they are below the “survival” line.
The NCRI reported on 5th February this year that PMOI discovered that the Afghan recruits go to Quds Force training garrisons for two to four weeks of “basic military training” after which they receive $500. They then get dispatched to Syria “in groups of 200 which later are organized in Fatemiyoun Divisions”.
On arrival in Syria they are taken to visit the shrines of Zeinab and Roqiya and then go to different fronts. “Their missions last for 60 days and all of their commanders and trainers are from the IRGC.”
The Afghan community in Iran is restless due to the lack of support the regime is giving to the families of those killed or injured in Syria. As a result many Afghans are reluctant to go Syria which means the Iranian regime is “short of much needed forces to prop up Assad”.