Liwa Fatemiyoun (Syria)

Country: Syria
Details of Formation: Afghan fighters had been involved in the Syrian civil war before November 2013 (most as members of Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas). In November/December 2013, during their funerals in Iran, ten fallen Afghan fighters were praised as members of Liwa Fatemiyoun, a newly formed militia of Shia Afghan recruits.
Details of Termination: --
Purpose: The main purpose of the group is to support the Syrian government in the Syrian civil war.
Organisation: Iranian officers organize the recruitment of Afghans and send them to Syria to fight for Liwa Fatemiyoun. When they arrive in Syria, members of Liwa Fatemiyoun are looked after by Syrian soldiers (Spiegel Online). The Iranian government is directly involved in the group’s activities. The fighters of the PGM regularly coordinate and fight side-by-side with other pro-regime Shiite militias.
Weapons and Training: The recruits received training and support by Iran, including Kalashnikov training (Human Rights Watch, Spiegel Online).
Size: There are no estimates available for the PGM size until end of 2014. Later, a news source affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps published a number of 14,000 fighters in the Liwa Fatemiyoun. (Human Rights Watch)
Reason for Membership: Most members are Afghans living in Iran who find themselves in a vulnerable position, being poor and/or having an uncertain legal status. If they join the Liwa Fatemiyoun they are offered legal residence in Iran and can avoid deportation to Afghanistan. The Iranian government proposes incentives to fighters, including offering citizenship for families of foreign fighters who die, become injured or are taken captive (Human Rights Watch). While fighters also join for the salary of around $600 a month, they often also find themselves trapped: The paperwork for the Iranian residence permit needs to be validated yearly and requires enlisting again. The Iranian police conducts special raids to capture Afghans and face them with the decision to either be deported to Afghanistan or go to Syria to fight and get paid (The New York Times). Other members were directly recruited from prison: They could get the final years of their sentence commuted if they joined Liwa Fatemiyoun (Spiegel Online). The group also recruits child soldiers (Human Rights Watch). The members-paid variable is coded no as evidence suggests that they receive their payment from Iran.
Treatment of Civilians: --
Other Information: Liwa Fatemiyoun is allegedly linked to Hezbollah Afghanistan.
References: Human Rights Watch. 2017. “Iran: Afghan Children Recruited to Fight in Syria. Protection Gaps Increase Children’s Vulnerability.”

Middle East Eye. 2018. “More than 2,000 Afghans killed in Syria fighting for Bashar al-Assad: Official.“ January 6.

Spiegel Online. 2015. “The Afghans Fighting Assad's War.“ May 11.

The New York Times. 2017. “Iran Sent Them to Syria. Now Afghan Fighters Are a Worry at Home.“
November 11.

Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD