Iranian general: We formed Shiite army to fight in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

‘This army is not only composed of Iranians but it recruits locally from the regions witnessing fighting’

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Retired General Mohammad Ali Falaki, who is currently one of the Iranian forces leaders in Syria, has recently revealed that Iran has formed a “Shiite Liberation Army” led by Quds Force commander, General Qassem Soleimani.

The Quds Force also known as Pasdaran in Persian is a special forces unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and is responsible for the Islamic Republic’s extraterritorial operation.

“The Shiite Liberation Army is currently fighting on three fronts - Iraq, Syria and Yemen,” he told Mashregh news agency, which is close to the IRGC, in an interview published on Thursday.

The retired general said “This army is not only composed of Iranians but it recruits locally from the regions witnessing fighting.”

Falaki, who is leading part of the IRGC fight in Syria to give support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, advised that it was “not wise to directly involve Iranian forces into the Syrian conflict.”

“The role of our personnel should be limited to training, preparing and equipping the Syrians to fight in their areas, ” he added.

Falaki said that the main objective behind the formation of the first nucleus of the ‘Shiite Liberation Army’ is to “eradicate Israel after 23 years, especially that these battalions are now on Israeli borders.”

The general, who is also an Iranian-Iraqi war veteran, also criticized Tehran for its failure to recruit Afghans and not creating a strong group with a tough leader for them on the lines of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement or militia group and its head Hassan Nasrallah.

“We’ve been considering Afghan refugees as dangerous offenders and mercenaries for the past 30 years,” he said. “We did not work on having Afghan groups and leaders like we did with the Shiites of Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain.”

The UN says there are about 950,000 registered Afghan citizens living in Iran but Tehran puts the total number at around 3 million.

However, Falaki praised sacrifices by the ‘Fatemiyon’ Afghan militias in Syria. He said that they only receive $100 for volunteering to fight there, dismissing reports that they expected to receive large sums of money.

He said the Afghan militias in Syria are “sacrificing their lives for nothing” especially that their government in Kabul has decided to arrest those who fought in Syria, with up to 18 years of jail sentence.

IRGC is still having “trouble when dealing with the Afghans in a friendly and brotherly way, because through Iranian eyes they are seen as inferior.”

He said Pakistanis have their ‘Zeynabioun’ militia group, Iraqis have their ‘Heydarioun’ while the Lebanese have Hezbollah.

Falaki also said there is another division for the Hezbollah, grouping both Iraqi and Syrian militias.

All of these militia groups are fighting under IRGC’s command, all wearing the “same uniform” under the same flag.

The article was first published in the Arabic-language website for Al Arabiya News Channel

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