U.S. identifies nine terrorist training camps in Iran for Afghans - report
United States intelligence agencies recently identified nine training camps inside Iran where jihadists from Afghanistan are being schooled for fighting in Syria, according to U.S. defense officials.
The camps are part of a large-scale paramilitary training program run by the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Islamic shock troops, to battle Syrian rebels opposing the regime of Bashar al Assad that Tehran is backing, the Washington Free Beacon reported on Friday.
The report said: "The camps were identified in satellite photographs located in areas of northeastern Iran close to the Iraqi border, said officials familiar with intelligence reports of the training."
A State Department official said he was aware of the reports. “If true, it would be a cruel exploitation of a group of vulnerable people already living in a precarious situation as refugees,” the official said. “And it would be another unfortunate reminder of the depths to which Iran is willing to go to continue to prop up the Assad regime.”
Rep. Mike Pompeo, (R.-Kan.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Iran's regime has been expanding military operations using cash obtained under the Obama administration’s nuclear deal.
“After the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a wave of cash flooded into the Islamic Republic of Iran, allowing the regime to dramatically increase its military budget,” Pompeo said.
“As a result, Iran’s malign influence in the region is growing quickly,” he added. “The IRGC is increasingly the most powerful force in many Middle Eastern capitals, including Damascus.”
Pompeo said the Iranian people “would be better served if their leaders spent funds on domestic improvement, instead of supporting international terrorist groups.”
The Free Beacon further wrote in its report: "Earlier this month, the Iranian exile group National Council of Resistance of Iran posted online a video clip used by Iran to recruit Afghans to fight in Syria. It includes images of Afghans who have died in Syria."
"The Iranian exile group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, known as MEK, estimates Tehran has dispatched more than 70,000 fighters, including both Iranians and foreign fighters, to the conflict."
"They include between 15,000 and 20,000 fighters of a group called the Fatemiyoun, an Afghan militia set up by IRGC Quds Force."
"The plight of the estimated 1.5 million Afghan refugees in Iran is said to include lack of personal or legal identity and poverty."
"The MEK stated that Qods Force training for the Afghans includes two to four weeks of basic military training. Upon completion of the training, the Afghans are paid the equivalent of $500 and sent to Syria in groups of 200 fighters."
"Transport aircraft send the Afghans to Damascus and missions typically last for 60 days. All commanders and trainers are IRGC members," it added.
Commenting on the new propaganda clip in the Iranian regime's state media recruiting Afghans for the Syrian civil war, Shahin Gobadi of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran earlier this month said:
“Syria has turned into a total quagmire and strategic impasse for the Iranian regime. Ali Khamenei, the regime’s supreme leader, views an end to Assad’s rule as a red line for the survival of the clerical regime. While the Iranian youths refrain from taking part in this criminal war, Khamenei is left with no choice but to dispatch his veteran IRGC forces and commanders to Syria, even though up to 50 IRGC Brigadier Generals have been killed in Syria so far. He is also trying to deploy more troops to the war front, and dispatch more of his non-Iranian mercenaries, in particular Afghan refugees as cannon fodder.”
“Despite all of his crimes and mobilization of all of the military, financial, and propaganda capabilities of the regime, there has been no breakthrough. Instead the Iranian regime’s casualties are steadily rising and this has led to scorn for the regime and its isolation even among Afghan refugees in Iran to a point where Khamenei personally met with the families of the regime’s Afghan mercenaries who were killed in Syria to boost their morale on March 28.”