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New Iranian Law Could Give Citizenship to Families of Foreigners Killed Fighting for Assad

Iran’s parliament passed a law Tuesday to provide citizenship for families of foreigners who died fighting for Iran, state media reported Monday.

The bill grants Iranian citizenship to “wives, children, and parents of foreign fighters who were killed on a mission for Iran during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988 and afterwards.” Some Afghans and Iraqis fought for Iran against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the 1980s.

But the new law may also apply to “volunteer” members of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, Afghan and Pakistani recruits said to be defending Shi’a shrines in Syria. Iran has been militarily supporting the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad through the direct deployment of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, as well as proxy groups like Hezbollah and Shi’a militias from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The new measure could help drive the recruitment of more foreign fighters.

A Pakistani Shi’a unit announced in December that 53 members had been killed fighting in Syria. Agence France-Presse reported last August that Afghan Shi’a were often forcibly recruited by Iran. Phillip Smyth, an expert in Shiite militias, told AFP that the Afghan troops serve as “cannon fodder.”

Britain’s Channel 4 News reported last month on how Afghanistan’s Hazara minority were being exploited by Iran to fight and die on behalf of Assad. Hazara fighters who are sent to Syria are often never heard from again by their families.

[Photo: Channel 4 News / YouTube ]