Afghan mercenaries being sent to Syria part of ‘vicious Iranian plot’

A Syrian paramedic carries an injured child following airstrikes by Syrian and Russian forces in the opposition-held town of Hamouria, Eastern Ghouta, on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 07 January 2018

Afghan mercenaries being sent to Syria part of ‘vicious Iranian plot’

JEDDAH: Iran has shown that it will resort to any tool to prop up the Assad regime, including the increasing recruitment of Afghan men and children to fight in Syria, Iranian-American political scientist Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News on Saturday.
He was reacting to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report that more than 2,000 Afghans deployed by Iran have been killed fighting in Syria for the Assad regime.
The Fatemiyoun Brigade of Afghan recruits has been fighting in Syria for five years, Zohair Mojahed, a cultural official in the volunteer force, told Iranian media.
Rafizadeh said two Iranian organizations are behind the recruitment: The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite Quds Force.
“The Iranian regime preys on vulnerable people such as immigrant or poor families,” he said, adding that Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently described Tehran’s recruitment of Afghan children as “a grave violation of international law.”
Mojahed told Iran’s reformist Shargh newspaper that the Fatemiyoun Brigade “has given more than 2,000 martyrs and 8,000 wounded for Islam.”
His description of mercenaries as “martyrs” drew a sharp rebuke from Syrian opposition spokesman Yahya Al-Aridi, who told Arab News that they are Iran’s “hired guns” who did not die for Islam.
“These Afghans are originally refugees in Iran. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, they took refuge in Iran and they’re being sent to Syria by Tehran to kill Syrians,” Al-Aridi said, adding that Islam is not a religion of violence, as is being wrongly portrayed by Mojahed.
“They died to implement vicious and cunning Iranian plots. Those mercenaries are killed by Syrians who are defending themselves, their land and their children,” Al-Aridi said.
Iran takes them to Syria and puts them on the frontline in order to invade Syrian territory and kill Syrians, he added.
“Many of them were captured by Syrian freedom fighters, and they confessed to being paid by Iran $200 to $500 for their families in Afghanistan,” he said. “Iran doesn’t care whether they’re killed or stay alive.”

Houthi militia in Yemen 'storm' World Food Program warehouse

Updated 2 min 10 sec ago

Houthi militia in Yemen 'storm' World Food Program warehouse

  • WFP warehouse in Hodeidah turned into a "military barracks"
  • Minister says thousands of families caught in crossfire

CAIRO: A Yemeni minister has accused Houthi militants of storming a warehouse used by the World Food Program to store humanitarian aid in Hodeidah.

Abdel-Raqeeb Fateh, the minister of local administration, said on Friday that the Houthis have turned the WFP warehouse in Al-Durayhimi district into a military barracks, AP reported.

Hodeida, Yemen’s largest port, has become the center of the fighting between pro-government forces and the Iran-backed Houthis, who seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.

Fateh added that thousands of families were caught in the district's crossfire between the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition forces fighting them.

Fateh said the Houthis are intimidating humanitarian workers and called for a condemnation from the UN.

The Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia, is supporting the government troops in the battle to recapture Hodeidah and restore the government.

The Saudi-led coalition accused the Houthis of carrying out a mortar attack on a hospital and fish market in Yemen earlier this month that killed at least 55 people. 

The UN on Friday said it had invited the Yemeni government and the Houthis to peace talks in Geneva on September 6.

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths said earlier this month he would convene the talks to try and bring an end to the three-year conflict has killed more than 10,000 people.