Iran is preparing to grant citizenship to the families Afghan volunteers who have died fighting for in Syria and Iraq, according to reports released on Monday. Members of the Fatemiyoun Division, affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have reportedly already been given Iranian citizenship, as reported by Javanonline news site.
Since 2013, Iran has increased its military presence in Syria and deployed hundreds of its special operation troops as well as militants. The country has allegedly been recruiting young people from poor countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India with the promise of granting them citizenship in return for military service.
Last year, Iran passed a law allowing the government to grant citizenship to the families of foreigners killed while fighting for the republic. The law could apply to volunteers from Afghanistan and Pakistan, who are fighting in Syria and Iraq against extremists, including those from Daesh.
The Fatemiyoun Division, an Afghani Shiite militia group formed in 2014 to fight in Syria and organized by Iran, comprises the majority of volunteers sent from Iran to fight in Syria and Iraq.
In recent days, more than 2,000 soldiers have lost their lives in the conflict in Syria, the reports stated. Iran has sent military advisers as well as volunteer fighters recruited from Afghanistan and Pakistan, to work with Assad's forces. They are known in Iran as "defenders of the shrines," in reference to sacred Shiite sites in Syria.
Iran denies having any boots on the ground in Syria, and insists its commanders and generals of the elite Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations wing act as "military advisers" both there and in Iraq. Iranian media regularly report on the death of Iranian, Afghan and Pakistani people in Syria, whose bodies are buried in Iran.
Meanwhile, Iran has gained a strong position in Syria. The country has helped the Assad regime throughout the war, dispatching thousands of soldiers, mobilizing the Hezbollah group and delivering millions of dollars, despite its troubled economy due to international sanctions. Playing the sectarianism card to keep relations tight with Shiite minorities and armed groups across the world, the Tehran administration has gone into a deadly war against civilians, not only in Syria but also in Iraq, by giving unconditional support to the Hashd al-Shaabi militants, who are infamous for their brutal acts against Iraq's Sunni citizens.
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