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Iran sends Afghan child soldiers to fight in Syria

Iran sends Afghan child soldiers to fight in Syria

Oct 02, 2017 - 10:14

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Afghan children, supported by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), are fighting against Syrian government forces, a global rights group says.

In a report issued on Sunday, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said its research was based on photographs of tombstones in Iranian cemeteries where combatants killed in Syria had been buried.

One of the graves in Tehran's Behesht-i-Zahra cemetery is of a 14-year-old Afghan boy killed in Syria. Several other Afghan child soldiers had been killed in Syria, Iranian media verified.

"Iran should immediately end the recruitment of child soldiers and bring back any Afghan children it has sent to fight in Syria," said HRW Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson.

About 2.5 million Afghans, many of them undocumented, are living in Iran, says Iran's interior ministry. One Afghan named Ali, recruited by IRGC, told HRW: "They never asked me to show any documentation.

"But they wanted to make sure we were Afghan nationals...We had to be above age 18 to be recruited, but they only asked for our age, not any documentation."

Under international law, military recruits must be at least 18 and the training or deployment of soldiers younger than 15 is considered a war crime.

HRW urged the United Nations to investigate child recruitment in Iran and to weigh adding the IRGC to the list of those violating child rights.

PANinfo-icon Monitor/mud


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