Commander of Iran-backed Afghan militia killed in Syria

By Waleed Abu al-Khair


Ali Jafari, one of the co-founders and top commanders of the Iran-backed Fatemiyoun Brigade, an Afghan Shia militia, was killed in Syria this week. [Photo circulated on social media accounts]

CAIRO -- An Afghan militia linked to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) lost one of its top commanders and co-founders in Syria, a blow that analysts said will adversely affect the militia's structure and its fighters' morale.

The Fatemiyoun Brigade, comprised of Afghan Shia mercenaries, is fighting alongside the IRGC, Hizbullah and other Iran-backed Iraqi militias in Syria.

"Social media accounts belonging to IRGC and Fatemiyoun Brigade elements have confirmed that Ali Jafari, the second in command of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, was killed in the ongoing battles in Syria," said Cairo University doctoral student Sheyar Turko, who has been researching the financing of the IRGC.

Jafari was killed while fighting alongside other IRGC-affiliated groups, he told Diyaruna.


The Fatemiyoun Brigade, an Afghan Shia militia fighting under the command of Iranian officers, is fighting alongside pro-Syrian government troops in the Badiya region. [Photo circulated on social media accounts]

The Iranian Fars news agency also confirmed the news of his death on July 12, describing him as a commander and co-founder of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, he said.

"Jafari became the brigade's most powerful figure and top commander after the death of its commander Ali Tusli in 2015 in the Daraa battles," Turko said.

Other prominent figures in the Fatemiyoun Brigade have recently been killed in Syria, including commander Mohammad Ibrahimi who hailed from the Iranian city of Qom, Iranian news agency Jam News reported on July 9.

Blow to the militia's morale

"Regime forces obviously thrust this militia into a battle whose outcome was disastrous for them," Turko said.

"Such blows undoubtedly have an adverse effect on the morale of these sectarian militias whose members fight like mercenaries," he said.

Additionally, it presents further evidence of Iran's involvement in the ongoing war in Syria, he said, both through the direct presence of IRGC officers on the ground or through IRGC's support of sectarian militias.

"The Fatemiyoun Brigade is one of the sectarian militias that were formed by the IRGC [in 2014] to fight in Syria under the pretext of protecting sacred shrines," he said.

It recruits fighters mainly from the approximately 3 million Afghans living in Iran.

It has about 20,000 fighters, according to Iranian media, and has suffered the largest losses among the various IRGC-backed militias fighting in Syria, according to other media reports.

Heavy fighting in Syria

"It is very likely that Ali Jafari, along with a large number of Fatemiyoun Brigade [militiamen], were killed in battles" that have been raging in Syria's Badiya region, said Riad Shahoud, a Free Syrian Army (FSA) officer operating in the Syrian desert.

Syrian regime forces, backed by armed militias and air and artillery cover, have been trying to advance in the Badiya region since July 7, he told Diyaruna.

FSA factions intercepted them and fierce fighting ensued, he said, adding that the FSA inflicted heavy human losses on regime forces and their allies.

"The Fatemiyoun Brigade was one of the militias that took part in those battles alongside the regime’s army, as evidenced by the bodies and personal items that were found in the battlefield," he said.

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Greetings to the Muslim nation! Now that Al Saud and each and every terrorist mercenary of Al Saud, from the accursed al-Baghdadi to all other excommunicating terrorists, have been sent to hell, you can now go and eat your heart out! Peace be upon the martyrs of the Fatemiyoun brigade! May your souls be resurrected with the souls of the martyrs of Karbala, and may your enemies be humiliated.


A bullet which is fired from a gun of Fatemiyoun Division is [worth] more than all the worships and prayers of you and us combined. In fact, these are the true soldiers of Islam. We can't expect much from the media that are supported by the West and the Saud family. You must know that we will definitely come for you, God willing!


You bad, [unintelligible], useless mercenaries! These are [unintelligible] you dishonorable [unintelligible] with your publications...


One of the reasons of all the cruelty and oppression committed by ISIS in Afghanistan is these Hazara militias who fought alongside Assad's oppressive regime in Syria, and gave a reason to ISIS wild-animals to consider that Afghans are supporting Assad's regime. These Hazaras are very bad people and they fight the same as dogs to serve the interests of Iran's dirty and anti-Afghan regime.


You are right, I am Shia and I hate traitor or territory seller.