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May 02, 2016

Iran Recruiting Its Children for War in Syria—to Prepare to ‘Invade Israel’

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Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif


Iran’s Islamic Republic is recruiting Iranian children to fight in the Syrian civil wars, selling it as a step to invading Israel. Tehran supports Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in the country’s ongoing conflict.

Washington Times journalist Rowan Scarborough (“Iran recruiting its teens against Islamic State,” April 29, 2016) reported that the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a dissident group that opposes the government in Tehran, released a translated video that appeared on Press TV, Iran’s English language propaganda outlet.

Scarborough noted the video’s selling pitch:

“You will be defending sacred Shiite shrines in Syria and will position yourselves to invade Israel, whose destruction is an Iranian regime priority.”

The video, which runs four minutes, shows “a group of boys in a courtyard, with three of them singing to another boy they are trying to recruit as he watches from a window. The singers are dressed in camouflage and combat boots. On camera, they tie on a cloth headband to complete the warrior look.”

The boys in the video sing a song that praises Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and makes religious references to Shiite Islam:

“On my leader’s [Khamenei’s] orders I am ready to give my life. The goal is not just to free Iraq and Syria; My path is through the sacred shrine, but my goal is to reach Jerusalem....I don’t regret parting from my country; In this just path I am wearing my martyrdom shroud….From Mashhad [northeast Iran], I will walk on foot to Damascus. I am like the bird who flocks to the sacred shrine.”

Shahin Gobadi, an NCRI official living in Paris, told The Times that this is the first time Iran has recruited children volunteers for fighting since the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980’s. Gobaldi noted that the cloth headband and the sectarian imagery featured in the video also resemble recruiting tactics used by the Islamic Republic during that conflict.

In addition to the country’s own children, the mullahs also are recruiting thousands of fighters from Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon to fight on the regime’s behalf in Syria. Scarborough said that according to the BBC “thousands of Afghans have been recruited into the Guard’s [Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] all-Afghan Fatemioun Brigade. Like the boys’ song, the call to arms is to protect Shiite shrines.”

The use of foreign fighters and the regime’s recruitment of children illustrates Tehran’s commitment to the Syrian conflict. Tehran announced earlier this month that it had sent commandos from the Artesh’s 65th brigade to fight alongside IRGC elements, Shiite militias and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist group that receives extensive Iranian support.

Iranian forces have suffered heavy losses in the Syrian conflict. For this reason, Gobaldi theorizes that “the bid to attract teenage volunteers is designed to boost morale among deployed troops and at home, where there is dissent against Iran’s direct involvement in a foreign war.”

As CAMERA has noted, the use of children under the age of 18 as combatants violates the United Nations 1989 Convention of the Rights of the Child (“Terrorist Groups Increase Child Recruitment Efforts,” March 16, 2016).

Iran’s use of children as soldiers, its support of militia groups accused of atrocities in regional conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen and its financing of global terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, did not stop the country’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javid Zarif, from making some mendacious claims in an April 20 Washington Post Op-Ed (“Zarif: Why Iran is building its defenses”). Zarif wrote that “at a time when bombs go off in public places throughout the Middle East and war is at our doorstep, we have a stable, safe and healthy environment for our citizens and for those visiting and doing business with us….Our people want nothing more than peace and cooperation with our neighbors and world at large.”

Iran continues to “Lebanize” the Middle East, and as The Washington Times reported, seems to have no problem using children for its imperialistic objectives. Additional news outlets and the U.N. would do well to note.


Posted by SD at May 2, 2016 01:05 PM

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