A report by the Paris-based Iranian opposition has revealed that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards are amassing Afghan, Iraqi, Lebanese and Pakistani mercenaries in Syria to control a pivotal road between Iraq and Syria that reaches the eastern coast of the Mediterranean.
The report published on Wednesday by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) comes as the United States is reviewing the inclusion of the IRGC and associated militias on the US terrorism list.
The IRGC has been deploying its militias in Syria at numbers estimated to be more than 100,000 members. The foreign fighters are deployed as mercenaries in clear violation of international norms and laws, the report stated.
Afghan militia flights
The report shows that the IRGC conducts weekly flights from Tehran via Mahan Air and Iran Air to Damascus to transport roughly 2,000 Afghan mercenaries every Tuesday.
The men are registered as volunteers and are recruited from among Afghan refugees in exchange for money and grants.
The report also states that the fighters are presented with identification cards upon their arrival in Damascus and then transferred to the Shibani camp west of the capital to receive their assignments.
Furthermore, mercenaries who have not received training in Iran undergo a training course in this camp.
Iraqi brigades in Deir el-Zor
The report shows that an Iraqi group in Syria, called the Imam Ali Brigades, underwent a training course for several months at a secret IRGC center on the outskirts of Tehran. “Part of the forces of this group are in the Deir el-Zor area, and their commander is Muhammad al-Bawi called Abu Abed” the report stated.
According to the NCRI in the past months, the IRGC has focused its forces on occupying the ground route between Iraq and Syria. “To this end, the commanders of the Revolutionary Guards have control over the command of the militias on both sides of the border, they want to gain control over about 400 kilometers of that border strip,” the report read.
Ground operations command in Syria is controlled by the IRGC according to the Intel report which added that the country has been divided into several operational fronts.
Each front has a command post, details of which were disclosed by the Iranian Resistance in July 2016. Javad Qorbani, an IRGC commander, in an interview with the state-run Jam-e-Jam newspaper on January 21, 2017, revealed the existence of three garrisons in Syria, including the garrisons of Roqiyah in Aleppo (northern front), the Nabi between Aleppo and Damascus (central front) and Zeinab towards Deraa (southern front).
Javad Qorbani, a commander of Zeinab garrison, said: “At this garrison, we are fighting at 29 points at the same time, meaning we have 29 front lines” the report stated.