Commemorating Afghan Shi’ites Killed in Syria
Their goal was first pilgrimage to… and second, defense of the holy places in Damascus.
OE Watch Commentary: Qassem Soleimani’s website bears watching, given what the head of the Qods [Jerusalem] Force represents within the Iranian political context. One article/interview excerpted here announces the March 2015 death of one Ali Reza Tavassoli, the commander of Afghan jihadists fighting in Syria. The article, however, may raise more questions than it answers. Tavassoli’s photograph suggests that he is an Afghan Hazara, a Shi‘ite Afghan ethnicity with a large presence in Kabul but traditionally hailing from the mountainous area of central Afghanistan.
The excerpted article, which is actually an interview with associates of Tavassoli, reports that he was buried in Mashhad. It was unclear whether this means he was recruited in Iran. This would be a troubling development, as Iran still hosts perhaps one million Afghan refugees. Should they become indoctrinated and fodder for Qods Force recruitment, this would expand Iran’s ability to fight by proxy not only in battlegrounds like Syria, but also in Afghanistan itself.
Whether recruited in Iran or Afghanistan, the presence of an Afghan Shi‘ite force in Damascus also suggests significant Iranian assistance with regard to logistics: it is much more difficult for an Afghan to travel to Syria than an Iraqi who speaks the language and needs only cross a single border.
The excerpted article does dispel the notion often voiced that military-age men captured by opposition groups in Syria are mere religious pilgrims, as the memorial article to Tavassoli makes clear that he and his band sought not only to visit prominent Shi’ite shrines in Syria, but to defend them militarily as well. End OE Watch Commentary (Rubin)
Source: “Agar Tip Fatamioun Nabud, Chizi as Haram Hazarat-e Zaynab Baqi Namandeh Bud” (If it were not for the Fatamioun Brigade, there would be Nothing Left of the Zaynab Shrine), QasemSoleimani.ir, 8 April 2015. http://qasemsoleimani.ir/article/2614.html
Commemorating Afghan Shi’ites Killed in Syria
Cleansing of the body of the martyr Ali Reza Tavassoli, commander of the Fatamioun Brigade (The Afghan Jihadists in Syria), buried in Holy Mashhad on 14 Esfand of this past year [March 5, 2015], the correspondent of Mashregh engaged in a conversation with one of the friends and comrades of the Martyr Tavassoli.
Martyr Ali Reza Tavassoli (“Abu Hamid”), Martyr Bakhshi (“Fatah”), Martyr Husseini, and Martyr Kalani were from the Fatamioun Brigade that was formed in partnership by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and their goal was first pilgrimage to the [Sayyid] Ruqayya [Mosque] and the Zaynab Shrine, and second, defense of these holy places in Damascus.

Question: How old were the Martyrs Tavassoli and Bakhshi?
Martyr Tavassoli was around 45 years old, and Martyr Reza Bakhshi was 38 years old. Tavassoli was married, and had three children, and they are 6, 7, and 9 years old, and the rest of the martyrs were single….