Iran: Afghan Children Recruited to Fight in Syria

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has recruited Afghan immigrant children living in Iran to fight in Syria.
Since 2013, Iran has supported and trained thousands of Afghans, at least some of them undocumented immigrants, as part of the Fatemiyoun division, a group that an Iranian newspaper close to the government describes as volunteer Afghan forces, to fight in Syria.

Afghan children as young as 14 have fought in the Fatemiyoun division, an exclusively Afghan armed group supported by Iran that fights alongside government forces in the Syrian conflict.
Under international law, recruiting children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities is a war crime.

Iran has not just offered Afghan refugees and migrants incentives to fight in Syria, but several said they were threatened with deportation back to Afghanistan unless they did. Faced with this bleak choice, some of these Afghan men and boys fled Iran for Europe.

Iran should be improving protections for Afghan refugee children, not leaving them vulnerable to unscrupulous recruiting agents.

The UN should investigate child recruitment by the IRGC, and the secretary-general should consider adding the organization to his annual list of perpetrators of violations against children based on evidence of child recruitment.

About the Author
Mohammad Zolfaghari is a Baha'i News reporter and human rights defender who worked exclusively on Human Rights Violations especially religious minorities in Iran and as a documentary maker with Amnesty International. Lives in Norway.
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