March 16, 2024

Afghanistan International – Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) has reported that the Islamic Republic of Iran has, for years, coerced migrants, especially Afghan children, into military service with promises of financial rewards and legal residency.

According to the report, Iran has dispatched Afghan children to fight in Syria as part of the Fatemiyoun Brigade.

A group of human rights activists in Iran published a comprehensive report on Tuesday, March 12, documenting Iran’s long-term operations of recruitment and use of child soldiers in warfare.

The main goal of this report is to expose the systematic exploitation of vulnerable populations, with a special focus on migrants and Afghan children by Iranian military and paramilitary forces.

The findings of this group of human rights activists document and highlight Iran’s violation of several international laws, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which stipulates that children under 15 should not be recruited or used in conflicts.

The activists have called for immediate action from the international community, including sanctions, diplomatic pressures, and support for NGOs working to protect vulnerable populations from child recruitment.

The report notes that one of the most concerning findings is the high casualty rate among child soldiers in the Fatemiyoun Brigade.

HRANA added that Iran has recruited Afghan children into the Fatemiyoun Brigade and Pakistani individuals into the Zainabiyoun Brigade.

Fatemiyoun Brigade is a militia group affiliated with Iran’s Quds Force, claiming to organise volunteer Afghan forces for deployment to Syria to fight against Bashar Assad’s opponents and ISIS.

According to HRANA’s report, the Fatemiyoun Division began its operations in 2013, marking the first deployment of Afghan “Fatemiyoun” defenders to Syria.

The report indicates that recruitment agents initially targeted Afghans for enlistment in this force, from factories to prisons, with promises that going to Syria would annul their prison sentences, stabilise their residency status in Iran, and provide them with houses and significant amounts of financial support.

HRANA, quoting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the former Afghan government, wrote, “Tehran has exploited the poverty and deprivation of Afghans who migrated to Iran for its sectarian and expansionist interests and goals.”

Samad Rezai, a commander of the Fatemiyoun in 2018, stated that at least 80,000 individuals under the Fatemiyoun brigades were deployed to Syria, with 2,800 reported as killed.

Zuhair Mujahid, the charge of cultural division of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, announced in 2017 that more than two thousand members of the Fatemiyoun forces had been killed in the Syrian war, with eight thousand wounded.

Recruitment of Children for the War in Syria

HRANA says that most members of the Fatemiyoun Brigade were Afghan migrants. According to the report, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was also active in recruiting within Afghanistan and had unofficial offices in the country.

Although the exact number of child soldiers in the Fatemiyoun is unclear, HRANA’s evidence suggests that the Revolutionary Guards have used children under 18, even under 15, as soldiers to join the Fatemiyoun and participate in the Syrian war.

HRANA’s report states that in 2017, Human Rights Watch confirmed the use of at least eight Afghan children in the Fatemiyoun Brigade by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. All these Afghan children were killed in the Syrian war, and four of them were only 14 years old at the time of their death.