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Iraqi sons killed in Syria misled by Iran-backed militias: fathers
At least 250 Iraqi teenagers and young men, most from poor families, have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the year, officials say.
By Mohammed al-Qaisi
BAGHDAD – The father of an Iraqi youth killed in Syria has filed a legal complaint in Baghdad against Iraq's Hizbullah, calling for those recruiting young men to fight in Syria's war to be held to account.
Hizbullah exploited 23-year-old Qusay Saadoun Wali al-Kinany, his father said, by using money to entice him to fight in Syria.
"My son Qusay's naiveté and our wretched financial condition were undoubtedly behind his going to fight in Syria," he said.
"I did not expect he would go to Syria, because he told me he was going on a trip to Iran, but a week later I discovered when he contacted me that he was in the Sayyida Zainab area of Damascus, where he had travelled two days after arriving in Iran," he said.
Qusay's parents laboured in vain to persuade their son to return to Iraq.
"He refused to return, and gave as a pretext the protection of the Sayyida Zainab shrine and an excellent salary, promising he would be well," his father said. "But only six days later, my son Qusay was killed, along with a friend of his who had travelled with him on that doomed trip."
Deception and death
At least 250 Iraqi youth – some as young as 18 – have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the year, said Lt. Col. Firas Ahmed al-Taie of Baghdad's Office for Fighting Organised Crime.
"The Iraqi branch of Hizbullah and the Asaeb Ahl al-Haqq militias can be described as the omen of death, because they are trying to tempt Iraq's young men with money, a job and paradise," al-Taie said.
Taha al-Jahali's son Mukhaled fell victim to the extremists' sales pitch.
"I knew he was going to Syria, but there was nothing I could do to dissuade him," said al-Jahali, 60, of Baghdad. "The temptations before him, such as the money and a promise of a respectable job upon his return to Iraq, proved too much."
Mukhaled died in Syria one month after he departed from Iraq.
Baghdad opposes recruitment cells
Security agencies are working hard to track down these recruitment cells and arrest them, al-Taie said.
In February, Iraqi security forces captured 30 young men trying to travel to Syria using forged passports, said Col. Abdul Salam Shehan al-Dulaimi of the Iraqi border guard command.
Upon further investigation, the security forces discovered the men "were going to Syria on the pretext of protecting the shrines," he said.
The extremists use the "protecting the shrines" line as nothing other than a way to help the foreign recruits get out of their countries.
"Iraqi authorities do not have the legal power to ban the travel of young men to Iran to visit the sacred shrines, or even to Lebanon as tourists, which is the declared purpose of those deadly trips, as they leave officially, whether on land or by air, and return as corpses," al-Taie said.
But he stressed that the mission of protecting the shrines is a falsehood.
Some 90 youth who returned alive "told their parents of their regrets and how they discovered that their departure was not to protect the shrines, which they never saw, but rather to fight with the Syrian army and the Lebanese Hizbullah militias in battles in various Syrian cities", he said.