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Pawns in the proxy war

The Human Rights Watch on Friday said that Iran is forcing Afghan refugees to fight for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. According to report of the watchdog, the Iranian authorities have recruited thousands of Afghan refugees to die for Assad in the Syrian civil war. Coercion was also used as a tool for recruitment. Those who showed reluctance to fight alongside the Syrian government forces were threatened with deportation back to their homeland. Those who could manage to flee to Europe were lucky. The unfortunate Afghans are sent to Damascus to fight a war that would not change situation in their home country, Afghanistan.

Taking advantage of the strict migration laws, Tehran is quite successful in its strategy to recruit and send the refugees to the frontlines in Syria, both against the rebels and Daesh, aka the Islamic State. They are trained near Tehran and Shiraz. After short military training in the camps, they are sent to Syria to become scapegoats in Damascus, Latakia, Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Dier Ezzor and other areas. Sadly, the Afghan ambassador in Tehran knows all about this but he never commented on it or reported the situation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Perhaps, the Afghan mission in Iran is taking cover behind the diplomatic curtain which stresses on improved relations between the two countries, no matter citizens die or who takes the most advantage.

In late November last year, Iran buried five Afghan refugees who were killed in the Syrian civil war. The pro-Assad Afghan fighters aged between 19 to 21 years. According to media reports, around 3,500 Afghan mercenaries were fighting for the Syrian president in August 2015. Tehran promised nationality and $700 salary per month to those Afghan refugees who wanted to fight and die for the Syrian regime. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards even recruits young Afghan refugees to support Bashar al-Assad. Coercion and promise of unprecedented perks and privileges are key elements employed by the Iranian authorities to recruit the refugees and use them as pawns in the proxy war.

The government shall take the issue seriously and approach Iran to stop recruitment of Afghan refugees as mercenaries. It is Constitutional responsibility of the government to protect Afghan nationals in the country and abroad. The foreign ministry should call up the ambassador in Tehran for explanations in this regard. If the government gives cold shoulder response, the parliament shall jump forward and summon the foreign minister. This nation is tired of wars and violence. Our countrymen who are seeking refuge in the neighboring countries from militants should not be allowed to become part of other violence. They want peaceful life and it is their fundamental human right. Tehran should immediately stop using Afghan refugees as the human shields in another conflict.

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