Ceremony for Iranians killed in Syria

17 Nov 2016 02:25 3
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(21 Oct 2016) A ceremony in the Iranian capital Tehran on Friday paid homage to Iranian militiamen killed in the battlefields of Syria in recent years.

Iran has always denied the presence of its armed forces in the fight against the Islamic State group (IS) and other rebel groups and says only volunteers are fighting in the frontline.

However, Tehran acknowledges that its commanders have an advisory role in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, some of whom have been killed since the start of the five-year civil war in Syria.

Friday’s event was organised by militiamen of the Fatehin (Victors) unit of the Basij, the paramilitary wing of the powerful Revolutionary Guards.

It was attended by two-thousand members of the force and their families.

Holding up pictures of their “martyred” fathers and husbands, families of the killed militia watched re-enactments of battles in Syria portraying Iranian fighters and members of the IS group.

Billboards carrying the photos and names of volunteers killed in Syria have been set up in different districts of Tehran over the last year, including a giant picture of General Hossein Hamedani, a senior Revolutionary Guard commander who was killed near the Syrian city of Aleppo in October 2015.

Authorities revere the volunteers as “defenders of the shrines”, who protect holy tombs of Shiite saints in Syria, including the shrine of Sayidda Zeinab, a granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad.

Zeinab’s shrine is an Iranian-style mosque in Damascus attracting Shiite Muslims from Iran and around the world.

Iranian state media praise these fighters as heroes and big funerals are held for them.

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