For the Iranian regime, its military capabilities through various terrorist proxies and militias have allowed its influence throughout the region to continue to grow. With the increasing number of sanctions by the U.S., those proxies and militias are being targeted in addition to the Iranian regime.
One militia, known as the Basij militia, brought sanctions on Iranian manufacturers who provide support to them. This militia is accused of recruiting child soldiers from Afghanistan to fight with Iran as they continue to support Syria’s Assad and his regime.
The Basij force is part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and consists of young volunteers who receive official benefits for their service. This force has also been used to crack down on protesters within Iran during the Green Movement in 2009. Many individuals were injured, tortured, beaten, and even shot by members of the Basij militia.
Poor Afghan Refugees Being Recruited
Human rights organizations have expressed concern over the fact that many young refugee children, some as young as 14, are being recruited to go fight in Syria as part of Iran’s forces. It is not clear whether these children are going voluntarily or if they are being brainwashed and bribed for their participation.
International law on the matter is clear that this is a war crime, which makes the fact that they are being brought into Basij forces even more frightening. A number of children have already been reported among the dead, and many Afghan children are among those casualties.
The issue is that poverty seems to limit the choices of these children. It is either stay and starve or go to war and receive some funds that can be sent home to their families. In the process, the children are trained to be loyal to the Supreme Leader.
Sanctions Amplify Effects of Measures Targeting Militias
The militia is just one arm of the IRGC, which is also being targeted for sanctions. In response, the IRGC is using fast vessels to attack ships in the Gulf. They are demonstrating swarm tactics meant to help them overwhelm bigger ships from the various navies that flow through the Gulf.
During some previous encounters, these Iranian boats refused to break off their approaches and this even prompted warning shots being fired by American forces.
These incidents simply justify why it is critical to continue the pressure on the regime by the international community, including the U.S. Despite its intimidation efforts, the IRGC is also being targeted for sanctions, which are meant to limit their ability to influence other countries and the region itself.