Released Afghan Fighters Rebut BBC’s Story on “Forced” Recruitment to Syria
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Two fighters of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, an all-Afghan unit defending the Holy Shrine of Hazrat Zeynab (SA) against Takfiri terrorists in Syria, refuted claims that Iran is forcing poor Afghans to fight “for money” in Syria.
The two, named Abbas and Heidar, were among those held captive by a terrorist group operating in the Arab country for some time.
They were released in June this year after spending over a year in captivity.
Earlier, a number of media outlets, including Britain’s state-funded television, the BBC Persian, broadcast interviews conducted by the terrorists with a number of fighters of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, including Abbas and Heidar.
In that interview, they confessed that they had received tempting offers from Iran to join the Syrian army and fight for Damascus.
But they now tell Tasnim that the confessions were made under duress.
Tasnim arranged an interview with the released Afghan fighters in an attempt to shed light on the matter.
During the interview, Abbas and Heidar both stressed that they had made those remarks under pressure and intimidation.
“They (terrorists) were standing (behind the camera) brandishing cutlasses and axes,” Heidar said, adding that if they had not made those remarks, the terrorist would have cut them into pieces.
“We said in that interview that we went there (Syria) to defend the Syrian nation, Islamic sanctities… but they left out these parts of our remarks (in the interview) and told us to say what they dictated,” Heidar added.
Abbas said, “They (the terrorists) used to beat us using whatever at their disposal... even an old woman beat us.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, he said reporters of Al Jazeera and Al Arabia news channels also frequented the place they were held captive.
“Reporters of these two channels were the media arms of the terrorists… the terrorists had friendly relations with the journalists,” Abbas said.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly dismissed “fabricated” reports about recruiting Afghan refugees to fight in Syria, saying such claims are propagandistic.
Earlier, an informed source at Iran’s Foreign Ministry said there was evidence that the Afghan nationals are fighting both for and against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“However, no one can speak with certainty about the circumstances of their (Afghans) presence on both sides of the Syrian front because the Daesh (also known as ISIL and ISIS) terrorist group and other terrorist groups have recruited forces from different countries including Afghanistan in support of their allies in Syria and Iraq,” the source added.
According to concrete evidence, some Afghans have been living in Syria and some others have departed for Syria from Afghanistan through Iran.
On January 19, Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has recruited thousands of undocumented Afghans living there to fight in Syria since at least November 2013.
Iran has sent military advisers to Syria to contribute to the Arab country’s fight against terrorists wreaking havoc in the conflict-stricken country.
The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which flared in March 2011, has thus far claimed the lives of more than 260,000 people and left over one million injured, according to the United Nations.