News - Afghanistan
Recent video footage published by the Free Syrian Army shows four Afghan nationals who were captured by the rebels while fighting on behalf of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The four young men say they originally fled Afghanistan and migrated to Iran because of poverty and unemployment before going to Syria to fight.
Seeking to shed light on the subject, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has since announced that there is no evidence indicating these young men were deployed to fight in Syria by Iran. According to officials, the evidence suggests they voluntarily went to fight for al-Assad.
The video was published online by the Amood Horan, a faction of the Free Syrian Army, which has been fighting the regime of al-Assad, as well as the Daesh group, in Syria for three years.
"I am from Afghanistan and I came here because of poverty and unemployment," one of the Afghan hostages arrested by the Free Syrian Army says in the video.
"I came from Afghanistan into Syria," another hostage, reportedly under the age of 18, tells the camera.
In Afghanistan, reactions to the video have been strong, with most decrying the conditions that would force such young men abroad rather than the actions of the men in the video.
"Political instability and poverty force the youth to migrate to Iran and Pakistan," a Kabul resident named Karim said on Friday.
"The youth are tired of unemployment, so they migrate to neighboring countries and are exploited for purposes of war," another resident named Ahmad said.
Meanwhile, some Afghan journalists have suggested the four men in the video were likely sent to Syria by the Iranina government. "The government of Afghanistan, mainly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation and the National Security Council, must take action and prevent Afghan youth from being burnt by the flames of every country's war," journalist Shah Hussain Murtazavi told TOLOnews.
In response to the video, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said there is no evidence proving the involvement of Iran in sending Afghans to Syria to fight. MoFA spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mustaghna has maintained Afghan youth choose to fight abroad. "So far, the Afghan government has no evidence that shows Iran sends Afghan refugees to the Syrian war," Mustaghna said.
The Iranian embassy in Kabul has consistently and categorically rejected any claims that the government in Tehran is responsible for sending Afghans to Syria to fight.
Nevertheless, there are also reports of Afghan refugees in Pakistan being sent to Syria to fight against president Assad's forces, whether on behalf of Daesh or the Syrian rebels, who, while embattled amongst themselves, both seek to topple the Syrian government. There are reports that Afghan refugees from Pakistan have also gone to Yemen.