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
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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.”


Egypt extends state of emergency for another 3 months

Updated 7 min 46 sec ago
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Egypt extends state of emergency for another 3 months

CAIRO: Egypt has extended its state of emergency for another three months.
The government declared a state of emergency after a Daesh affiliate bombed two Coptic churches in April 2017, killing at least 44 people, and it has been renewed once before.
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s latest renewal was published in the official gazette on Tuesday. Parliament is expected to approve it within seven days, and it has already taken effect.
Egypt has been battling militants for years, mainly in the restive northern Sinai, but the insurgency gained strength after the 2013 overthrow of an elected but divisive president. The militants have mainly targeted security forces and Christians.
In February, Egypt launched a massive nationwide security operation.