The latest estimates suggest at least 3,500 Afghans are fighting in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad, shedding light on growing recruitment of Afghans in the conflict which was around 500 less as compared to estimates three months back.
Relatives of a number of those killed while fighting for the Syrian regime have said the Afghan nationals are lured by the month salary of $700 and Iranian residency permit.
Phillip Smyth, an expert on Shiite militant groups, told AFP an estimated 2,000 to 3,500 Afghans are currently fighting in Syria.
He said “In terms of how they are recruited, deployed, and utilized in Syria, many Afghan Shiite fighteers have suffered the fate of being used as cannon fodder.”
Smyth further added “Some are coerced to fight; others promised residency papers for their family, and a small salary. It demonstrates Iran’s exploitation of Afghan Shiite refugees.”
This comes as a video emerged from Syria three months ago which purportedly showed the capture of four Afghan nationals by the Syrian rebels.
Two teenage boys are also seen among those captured during the clashes apparently by the rebels belonging to the Free Syrian Army.
The group was reportedly deployed to Syria to take part in the ongoing conflict by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
The men appearing in the video introduces them while speaking in Dari language and describes unemployment as the main reason behind their decision to fight in Syria.
Dozens of Afghan nationals were reportedly killed late in December last year while fighting in support of the Syrian regime led by Bashar al-Assad.
According to the estimates back in April, some 3,000 Afghan nationals have been deployed to take part in the ongoing Syria conflict.
The Afghan militants are fighting on both sides of the Syrian war, in support of the Syria Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.
Informed sources in the Afghan government have also confirmed that the number includes Iranian-backed Shiites fighting a proxy war in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and against Islamic State and other rebel groups.
The participation of Afghan militants in Syria war has sparked concerns among the Afghan officials some will return to fight in Afghanistan under Islamic State’s banner.