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Iran forcing Afghan refugees into Syrian war: MPs

Iran forcing Afghan refugees into Syrian war: MPs

May 17, 2014 - 18:45

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Some Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon members on Saturday accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of forcibly sending Afghan refugees to Syria to fight alongside President Bashar Al-Assad and his troops against the rebels.

The accusation echoed in the lower house after The Wall Street Journal reported that Iran had been recruiting thousands of Afghan refugees to fight in Syria, offering them $500 a month and Iranian residency.

Citing Afghan and Western officials, the American newspaper said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) recruited and trained Shiite militias to fight in Syria.

A member of the IRGC also confirmed the details."They [IRGC] find a connection to the refugee community and work on convincing our youth to go and fight in Syria," the office administrator of Ayatollah Kabuli, an Afghan refugee leader in Qom, told The Wall Street Journal. "They give them everything from salary to residency." Tehran is also offering them school registration for their children and charity cards.

But Hamid Babaei, a spokesman for the UN mission to Iran, said allegations that Iran is sending Afghan refugees to Syria as fighters are unfounded.

The issue of sending Afghan refugees to Syria was discussed in the lower house. Lawmaker from northern Kunduz province, Sukhria Paikan, said Afghans were forced by abject poverty at home country to travel to neighbouring countries in search of job.

“But over the past few years, Iran has been mounting pressure on Afghan refugee families to give in their sons reaching 18 years of age to be sent to Syria,” she claimed.

Paikan said the Afghan government should take urgent and necessary measures at preventing the Iranian move, which she said was highly condemnable.

Her colleague from eastern Nangarhar province Amir Khan Yaar said Tehran forced Afghan refugees into joining President Assad forces to fight rebels.

“But it is our own mistake because we have not been able to create jobs and prevent our people from migrating to neighbouring countries,” said Yar, who urged Iranian authorities to stop exploiting the plight of Afghan refugees there.

The lawmaker asked the Kabul government to take all possible measures to prevent Afghan refugees from being sent to Syria.

Qudratullah Zaki, who represents northern Takhar province, said Iran violated the principles of neighbourhood and international laws by forcibly sending Afghan refugees to Syria.

He said the Afghan government should not allow a neighbouring country to use its citizens for own interests.

Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said the Afghan government was responsible to resolve problems being faced by its citizens in foreign countries.

He said the lower house would send letters to the ministries of foreign affairs and refugee and repatriation to resolve the problems of Afghans in Iran.

Spokesmen of the two ministries did not return calls seeking comments on the issue.



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