SYRIA, HUNDREDS OF AFGHANS FIGHTING ALONGSIDE ASSAD The migratory flow has intensified in recent years after Teheran offered them financial support and administrative favours to fight side by side with the regime

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More than 200 Afghans have lost their lives in Syria over the past two years of conflict. “Fighting for the regime” of President Bashar al-Assad or “with the militias of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement,” is as stated by Ayham Barakat, leader of the free Syrian army, which has declared that there are 20 prisoners in the hands of the anti-Assad revolutionaries who have been neglected to themselves.

During the Afghan war, many of them arrived in Syria, and settled mostly in Shiite-dominated areas like the town of Sayyeda Zeinab, on the outskirts of Damascus. Barakat said that a second wave of migration had been registered “after Iran had purchased a large amount of property in the town and its surroundings and started building places of pilgrimage”, where the Afghans have settled to work. Finally, the last gradual move can be said to be the result of expulsions of the  Afghans  living in some Gulf countries and that “some have settled in Syria under Syrian-Iranian protection,” said the leader of the army, stating that “none of these possesses citizenship”.

Barakat said that before the civil war there had been no problems between Afghans and the Syrian citizens, then Iran and the Assad regime began enlisting them to fight against the opposition and Tehran has encouraged the new influx by offering them financial support and administrative favours. The confirmation has come from some prisoners who have decalred receiving a monthly salary to fight alongside the regime.

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