Afghanistan has arrested an Iranian official for recruiting Shiites to fight on behalf of the Syrian regime, according to media reports.
An Iranian outlet affiliated with the country’s reformist movement reported Sunday that Qurban Ghalambor—the representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s office in Kabul—was detained for “recruiting Afghan Shiite fighters and sending them to Syria.”
Afghan security authorities transferred Ghalambor from Herat to the capital Kabul, where further investigations into his activities were launched, according to an Arabic-language translation of a Saham News report prepared by Kurdish Bas News.
Saham News—which is linked to Iranian reformist political Mehdi Karroubi—added that Afghan Shiite figure Issa Hosseini Mazari—the head of the Afghan Voice Agency—called on authorities to release Ghalambor.
Al-Jazeera also covered the incident, reporting Sunday that Ghalambor was the official responsible for dispatching Afghan Shiite fighters to Syria.
The news network cited Afghan government sources as saying that the Iranian was detained outside his home in Herat, which is located in western Afghanistan near Iran.
Tehran has recruited thousands of Persian-speaking Hazara Afghans refugees living in Iran to fight in the Fatemiyoun Brigade, which was formed in late 2014 and is overseen by officers in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
“Iran has urged the Afghans to defend Shia sacred sites and offered financial incentives and legal residence in Iran to encourage them to join pro-Syrian government militias,” Human Rights Watch said in a January 2016 report condemning Tehran for recruiting impoverished Hazara Afghans.
Afghans have been thrown into combat on the side of regime forces across Syria, with a large number of them dying in the Aleppo and Daraa provinces.