Iranian doc follows Afghan fighters in Syria

An Iranian government-owned TV station recently aired a documentary about the role of Shiite fighters from Afghanistan in the Syrian civil war. The 23-minute video, “Moalem” (“Teacher”), tells the story of a Shiite fighter from Afghanistan who has been fighting in Syria for the past three years.

The documentary, aired by Ofogh TV — an unofficial media arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — indirectly shows how the IRGC established the Fatemion Brigade, made up of Shiite fighters from Afghanistan, to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This is probably the first time that the Iranian government has aired material that clearly shows that paramilitary forces from other countries are in Syria supporting Iran’s ally Assad.

“Moalem” describes how the Rif Dimashq city of al-Malihah, home to 20,000, was conquered. The protagonist says, “We fought for seven months until we were finally able to liberate al-Malihah. We closed in on the city from three sides and about 50 of our fighters were martyred before we liberated the city. The soldiers of the Fatemion Brigade had promised Sayyida Zaynab [the sister of Imam Hussein] that they would liberate the city. Al-Malihah is very important strategically and the opposition tried very hard to hold onto it. The Syrian army took action first and then the [Iraqi Shiite paramilitary] joined in and finally the forces of Hezbollah arrived. However, nothing could be done and eventually the Fatemion Brigade entered the field and liberated the city.”

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This article was written by Farahmand Alipour for Al-monitor on May 5, 2015. Farahmand Alipour is an Iranian journalist in Italy, where he specializes in news and analysis on Iran and the Middle East.