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Iran to grant citizenship to Afghans fighting in Syria

Since conflict began in 2011, Tehran has sent Shia militias to Syria to fight under Revolutionary Guard commanders

Iran to grant citizenship to Afghans fighting in Syria


Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has ordered that Afghan fighters fighting in Syria as part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRG)’s Fatimiyyoun Brigade be granted Iranian citizenship, according to an Iranian official.

Mohammad Ali Shahidi Mahallati, an official at Iran’s Foundation for Martyrs’ and Veterans’ Affairs, made the assertion in statements published late Sunday on Javanonline, an Iranian conservative website.

"According to Khamenei’s instructions, Iran will grant citizenship to Afghans fighting in Syria [as part of the Fatimiyyoun Brigade]," Mahallati said.

Since the Syria conflict erupted in early 2011, Iran has sent a number of Shia militias to fight alongside the Assad regime under IRG commanders.

The two largest of these are the Fatimiyyoun and Zaynabiyyoun brigades, which are composed of Shia Afghan and Pakistani fighters respectively. 

More than 2,000 Iranian military personnel have been killed in Iraq and Syria since conflict broke out in the latter country six years ago, Mahallati announced last week.

Iran is a staunch supporter of the Assad regime in Syria, which has been riven by civil conflict since 2011, when regime forces quelled pro-democracy protests -- which had broken out as part of the “Arab Spring” uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.

Last year, Iran’s Consultative Assembly (parliament) passed a bill granting Iranian citizenship to the families of foreign fighters killed in Syria while fighting under the umbrella of the IRG.

In January, the New York-based Human Rights Watch accused the IRG of having recruited thousands of Afghan refugees in Iran for military service since 2013.

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