Iran recruited Afghan boys as young as 14 for the Syria conflict: HRW

iran_afghanchildrenKABUL: The Human Rights Watch in its latest report has revealed that young Afghan boys as young as fourteen years old have been recruited by Iran to fight in Syria.

According to a new report by the Human Right Watch, the children have been recruited y the Revolutionary Guard of Iran and several of them have been killed and buried in the Iranian soil.

Afghan children as young as 14 have fought in the Fatemiyoun division, an exclusively Afghan armed group supported by Iranthat fights alongside government forces in the Syrian conflict,” the report said.

The report further added that the researchers of the organization have reviewed photographs of tombstones in Iranian cemeteries where the authorities buried combatants killed in Syria, and identified eight Afghan children who apparently fought and died in Syria.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said “Iran should immediately end the recruitment of child soldiers and bring back any Afghan children it has sent to fight in Syria.”

“Rather than preying on vulnerable immigrant and refugee children, the Iranian authorities should protect all children and hold those responsible for recruiting Afghan children to account,” she added.

Citing the ministry of interior estimates, HRW said there were 2.5 million Afghans in Iran, many of them without residency papers.

Human Rights Watch previously documented cases of Afghan refugees in Iran who “volunteered” to fight in Syria in the hopes of gaining legal status for their families.

According to the rights organization, since 2013, Iran has supported and trained thousands of Afghans, at least some of them undocumented immigrants, as part of the Fatemiyoun division, a group that an Iranian newspaper close to the government describes as volunteer Afghan forces, to fight in Syria. In May 2015, Defa Press, a news agency close to Iran’s armed forces, reported that the Fatemiyoun had been elevated from a brigade to a division. -KP

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