London, 28 Apr – Iran has embarked on a new propaganda campaign to recruit children to join the war in Syria, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has reported, claiming that Tehran is “faced with a crisis in recruiting fighters to defend Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad”.
The state media in Iran, in the past few days, have released a promotional clip – ‘Martyrs who defend the sacred shrine’ – in an effort to persuade children to participate in the war, it pointed out.
Bassij Music House, the producers of the video, is the propaganda arm of a branch of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – the paramilitary Bassij.
The video, which can be viewed on the NCRI’s website, shows young children singing the following:
“Let’s rise up to save the sacred shrine.
I have joined [Imam] Hossein’s army division.
… I have a warrant from the [Imam Ali] to defend the sacred shrine.
On my leader [Ali Khamenei’s] orders I am ready to give my life.
The goal is not just to free Iraq and Syria;
My path is through the sacred shrine [in Syria], but my goal is to reach Jerusalem.
… I don’t regret parting from my country;
In this just path I am wearing my martyrdom shroud.
… From Mashhad [north-east Iran], I will walk on foot to Damascus.
I am like the bird who flocks to the sacred shrine.”
There are similarities, for example the images and slogans used in the video, that relate to Tehran’s efforts to recruit during the Iran-Iraq war. The regime was faced a public backlash when they tried to recruit soldiers, so at one point the authorities “used Iranian children as human waves to clear the minefields”, the NCRI said. Their efforts were fruitless at the time and the then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had no choice by to accept a ceasefire – or a “chalice of poison” as he called it.
The NCRI said: “In the Iranian regime’s lexicon, ‘defending the sacred shrine’ is the equivalent of deploying the forces of the IRGC and more recently the regular army to Syria to defend the Assad regime as he massacres the people of Syria. This is while the majority of the Iranian regime’s casualties are near Aleppo which is several hundred kilometres away from the holy Shiite shrines near Damascus”.
Speaking about this new promotional clip being broadcast, Shahin Gobadi of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the NCRI, said that it exemplifies the anti-human nature of the regime that will go as far as using children of its own loyalists “as cannon fodder”. He said that the whole situation shows that a strategy deadlock is evident. Even after trying to deploy various units including the IRGC forces and foreign militias, the regime is now seeking to recruit children to fight in the war.
He added that even this “disgraceful and inhumane act” will not resolve the deadlock situation, just like it didn’t work in the Iran-Iraq war. This time, he said, the regime is in an ever more fragile state.
The Washington Times on Friday quoted Gobadi as saying: “We monitor the Iranian regime’s state media thoroughly. Our people noticed this on the state media, and then our people were able to download it from one of the regime’s websites”.