Thousands of Afghan refugees have been recruited by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to fight alongside forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it has been reported.
According to reports, some of the refugees have been deployed to Syria after they were recruited through coercion.
Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), said “Iran has not just offered Afghan refugees and migrants incentives to fight in Syria, but several said they were threatened with deportation back to Afghanistan unless they did.”
He said some of the Afghan migrants were forced to flee Iran for Europe after facing the bleak choice from the Iranian authorities.
The relatives of a number of the Afghan migrants deployed to fight in Syria have been interviewed with six of the twelve respondents saying Iranian forces had trained them or their relatives in military camps near Tehran and Shiraz in 2015.
Two of the six had joined voluntarily, while the other four said they or their relatives had been coerced or forced to fight.
This comes as earlier estimates revealed at least 3,500 Afghan migrants are fighting in Syria to support the forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad.
Relatives of a number of those killed while fighting for the Syrian regime have said the Afghan nationals are also lured by the month salary of $700 and Iranian residency permit. KP