Liwa Fatemiyoun

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Liwa Fatemiyoun
Participant in the Syrian Civil War
200px
Active November 2014–present[1]
Ideology Shia Islamism
Leaders Ali Reza Tavassoli (Abu Hamed[2][3] Mostafa Sardarzadeh [3]
Area of operations Daraa Governorate[2][4]
Idlib Governorate[5]
Aleppo Governorate
Palmyra District, Homs Governorate
Strength 20,000 (claimed by Iranian media)(January 2016)
Part of Hezbollah Afghanistan[1][dubious ]
Allies Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution
23x15pxSyrian Armed Forces
National Defence Forces
Hezbollah
Opponents Free Syrian Army
Islamic Front
al-Nusra Front
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Battles and wars Syrian Civil War

The Liwa Fatemiyoun (لواء الفاطميون), also known as the Fatemiyoun Brigade and Fatemiyoun Division, is an Afghanistani Shia militia formed in 2014 to fight for in Syria for the government. It is funded, trained, and equipped by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and fights under the command of Iranian officers.[1] However, the group has denied direct Iranian government involvement in its activities.[1] According to Iranian media, it numbers over 20,000 men.[6]

History

The Fatemiyoun Division primarily recruits from the approximately 3 million Afghan refugees in Iran, as well as the approximately 2 thousand Afghan refugees already residing in Sayyidah Zaynab, Syria. The recruits are typically Shia Hazaras.[1] They are promised Iranian citizenship and salaries of $500 per month in return for fighting.[1][7] Many are illegal immigrants or criminals who choose recruitment over imprisonment or deportation.[7][8][9] The recruits are given a few weeks of training, armed, and flown to Syria via the Iraq-Syria-Iran air bridge. These soldiers are used as shock troopers, spearheading numerous important pro-regime offensives alongside Iranian, Iraqi, and Hezbollah troops. Most of them operate as light infantry, although some receive more thorough training and can work as tank crews.[10]

Reports of pro-government Afghan fighters date back to October 2012.[1] They originally fought in the Iraqi Abu Fadl al-Abbas Brigade before eventually becoming a distinct brigade in 2014.[7]

The group's official purpose is the defense of the shrine of Zaynab bint Ali, the granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad. A member claims that "We do not fight for money, we fight for love, meaning that we fight to defend the shrine of Zaynab bint Ali".[citation needed] In October 2014, some fighters were captured by the Islamic Front. Their fates are unknown.[9] On 7 May 2015, Iran commemorated 49 fighters of the group who were killed.[11] According to Spiegel Online, 700 members of the group are believed to have been killed in combat around Daraa and Aleppo as of June 2015.[8] The Washington Institute estimated at least 255 casualties between January 19 2012 and March 8 2016. [12] In March 2016, they fought in the March 2016 recapture of Palmyra from the Islamic State.[13]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Iran's Afghan Shiite Fighters in Syria". Retrieved 9 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Iran mourns 7 Afghans killed fighting for Damascus ally". Daily Star Lebanon. Retrieved 7 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 yalibnan. "Top Iranian Guards commander, several fighters killed in Syria". Retrieved 6 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Syria rebel group denies releasing Afghan prisoners". 23 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. sohranas. "More than 50 air raids carried out on Jeser al- Shagour, and the violent clashes continue around hills in Frikah village and al- Alawin checkpoint". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 9 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Iran 'foreign legion' leans on Afghan Shia in Syria war": "A report by Iran's Mashregh News, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, said that the Fatemiyon force comprises some 20,000 fighters."
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Afghans in Syria: Ayatollah's soldiers serving Assad". 5 November 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Reuter, Christopher (9 June 2015). "The Afghans Fighting Assad's War". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 10 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 War Is Boring. "Iran Is Forcing Poor Afghans to Fight and Die in Syria — War Is Boring". Medium. Retrieved 6 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Fariba Sahraei. "Syria war: The Afghans sent by Iran to fight for Assad". BBC Persia. 15 April 2016.
  11. "Sami on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 9 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Iranian Casualties in Syria and the Strategic Logic of Intervention". Retrieved 6 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Leith Fadel (21 March 2016). "Iranian special forces arrive in Palmyra to help liberate the city". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 6 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>