According to the director of the Iranian Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, 2,100 Shiite volunteers, fighting against terrorists, have been killed on the territories Syria and Iraq so far.
Iran has mobilized volunteers from Shiite population of Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to support the Syrian regime and deter the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq, the Zone Militaire information portal reported. In addition, Tehran sent ‘military advisers’ from the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to the area of combat operations in Syria.
Foreign Shiite volunteers were included in the Zeynabiyoun and Fatemiyoun brigades before being sent to Syria, depending on their country of origin. Their monthly salary is 450 euros, and they were promised to be provided with Iranian citizenship.
In addition to these foreign fighters, some number of Iranian volunteers also decided to participate in the campaign in order to defend Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque, a Shiite holy place, located in the south of Damascus. But their number is not very large.
According to information from Tehran, these volunteer formations suffered heavy losses. In November 2016, director of the Iranian Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, Mohammad Ali Shahidi Mahallati, reported that 1,000 of them were killed in Syria, however, he did not specify nationalities and circumstances of the deaths of the killed fighters.
Four months later, these figures became even greater. On March 7, Mahallati said that 2,100 people had become ‘martyrs’ not only in Syria, but also in Iraq, where they defended the holy mausoleums, the graves of followers of Prophet Muhammad.
But these Shiite volunteers fought not only to defend their holy places, they also held a strategic corridor, which connects Iran and the Hezbollah movement. In addition, a large number of them took part in the battle for the eastern part of Aleppo. Evidence of the Iranian participation was the visit of head of the Quds Force, Major general Qasem Soleimani, to the ruined neighborhoods of Aleppo after the end of the fighting in December 2016.
This means that in contradistinction from previous cases, the head of the Iranian Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs voiced losses in Iraq, where the Shiite militia, backed up by Iran, fights against terrorists. This partly explains the significant increase in casualties among Shiite volunteers and military advisers from the Quds Force.