Thousands of Afghan, Pakistani Shiites in Hizballah’s advance on Golan
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 17, 2015
The Iranian-backed “Operation Quneitra Martyrs named for Gen. Ali Allah Dadi” to capture the Golan brings Afghan and Pakistani Shiite fighters to an Israeli border for the first time, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources reveal that 2,000 of these fighters have joined an equal number of Hizballah troops, who are spearheading a march on the Golan from southern Syria, directly behind the Syrian tanks. They are acting on an order from the Iranian high command in Syria to integrate Shiite fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan in combat for the Golan sector of the Syrian-Israeli border.
These fighters were recruited from two Shiite militias which the Revolutionary Guards Al Qods Brigades have established among Iran’s minority communities, notably the Hazara and Zaynubian Militias. Hazara has been drawn from the two million Afghan Shiite refugees who escaped to Iran in flight from persecution by Taliban and al Qaeda. Zaynubian Militia is made up of Pakistani Shiites brought to Iran for military training.
From the Israeli viewpoint, the arrival of these fighters to boost Hizballah’s push in southern Syria attests to Iran’s intention to expanding the Hizballah war effort against Israel – both from Syria and from Lebanon. The injection of this new strength is designed to consolidate Israel’s besiegement from the east and the north by a strong, continuous Lebanese-Afghan-Shiite Shiite military belt under Iranian command, and teach them to fight Israel as an integrated force
Still, not everyone in top IDF and security top circles rates the combat capabilities of the Afghan-Pakistani contingents too highly. Some account for the slowdown of the Iranian-Syrian offensive at the beginning of this week by the disappointing performance of those Shiite forces and their failure to fully pull their weight as expected. debkafile’s military sources say that the truth of the matter is irrelevant, considering Tehran’s firm determination to win a foothold on the Golan willy-nilly – even if to attain this objective, it becomes necessary to import more manpower, be they Afghans or Pakistanis, as well as adding more heavy arms.
Interestingly, a small group of Hazaras had their first Syrian experience two years ago when they were thrown into the Syrian army’s battle for the town of Aleppo. They took a severe beating from Syrian rebel forces, against whom their unfamiliarity with urban guerrilla warfare and local conditions placed them at a serious disadvantage. They were pulled out and sent to Iran for extra training and reorganization and brought back to Syria at the beginning of the year. Each of these Shiite militiamen is paid $500 per month, a sum which they may transfer to their needy families in Iran and Afghanistan.