An Afghan Fatemiyoun fighter has died of COVID-19 in Syria, raising questions about the virus’s spread among the ranks. Meanwhile, the Fatemiyoun buried two fighters who had died under uncertain circumstances.
Iranian-backed militias are taking part in the battle for northwestern Syria.
US Treasury on January 24 designated the Afghan Fatemiyoun Division and the Pakistani Zeynabiyoun Brigade, which are led by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), pursuant to counter-terrorism and human-rights-abuses designations. Criticizing the US, the Shiite-Islamist militias emphasized that they are part of the IRGC-led transnational militant network, pledged to keep fighting, but stopped short of directly threatening the US.
The US government has designated the Afghan Fatemiyoun Division and the Pakistani Zaynabiyoun Brigade for their ties to Iran’s Qods Force.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Russia have spearheaded the operation to capture the Islamic State-held city of al Mayadeen in Deir Ezzor province, eastern Syria.
One day before Tuesday’s US airstrike in southeastern Syria, Iranian media announced the death of an Afghan militiaman in the vicinity of the Tanf military base, where coalition forces are training Syrian insurgents fighting the Islamic State.
In a revealing interview, a retired senior IRGC commander who has deployed to Syria discussed a wide range of issues. He praised the Afghan militia fighting for the IRGC in Syria, and claimed that a “Shia liberation army” is forming, with the ultimate goal of destroying Israel. The commander’s talk about his mission in Syria reflects the IRGC’s pattern of deployment since its military escalation in October 2015.