To the shock of the public, Iranian TV published a report about an Iranian child soldier fighting in the Syrian war.
Iran sent thousands of children to into battle during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88). However, it was widely believed that children were no longer being used as soldiers by the Islamic Republic.
The report revealed that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is actively recruiting Iranian children to fight in the Syrian war.
The child interviewed by Iranian TV told reporters that he is 13 years old and is fighting for the Assad regime in the Syrian city Abu Kamal (also known as Al-Bukamal) with IRGC forces. The boy is from the Mazandaran province in northern Iran. Iranian TV reported he is the youngest Iranian soldier in the war.
“This child reminds us of Mohammad Hossein Fahmideh from the Iran-Iraq War,” said the reporter.
Mohammad Hossein Fahmideh was a 13-year-old child soldier who was killed fighting for the IRGC in the Iran-Iraq war. The regime’s propaganda machine turned him into a national hero, motivating thousands of Iranian children to enlist as soldiers and fight in the war. The children were notoriously used to clear mine fields and told that if they died, they would go directly to heaven.
Thousands of these children were killed. Many were captured by the Iraqi army.
When the reporter asked the child why he came to Syria, he responded, “I promised [General] Qasem Soleimani that I will join in protecting the holy place of [Sayyidah] Zaynab in Syria.” Soleimani is the commander of the Quds Force, the IRGC unit that fights outside of Iran.
The town of Sayyidah Zaynab is the burial place of Zaynab, the granddaughter of Islam’s prophet Mohammed and the daughter of Fatima (Mohammed’s daughter) and her husband Ali, who was the fourth caliph and a cousin of Mohammed. Shiite Muslims believe that Ali was one of the divinely-inspired successors to Mohammed.
The child also told the reporter he would like to be a martyr and is not afraid of dying in the war. He related how he had witnessed the deaths of a number of IRGC soldiers he had been with in a trench in Syria.
Pictures of gravestones from the war show that this boy is not the only child soldier to have fought for Iran in Syria. Dates on the stones show that a number of Afghani and Iranian children under the age of 16 fought and died in the war.
Western media reports confirm the Afghani children were also recruited by the IRGC.
A report by Human Rights Watch said the child soldiers are fighting in an Afghani Shiite milita called Liwa Fatemiyoun (literally Fatimia’s Brigade), formed in 2014. It is reportedly funded and equipped by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and fights under the command of Iranian officers. The militia comprises 14,000 fighters.