The Afghan cousin of Mohammad, Abdullah Karim Aminy, looks at a photograph of his cousin on a laptop in Kabul.
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The fate of two brothers from Kabul, one grievously wounded, the other killed fighting in Syria, spotlights Iran's covert but active recruitment of Afghan refugees to buttress President Bashar Assad's steadily depleting forces.Shiite Iran, Assad's key military and financial patron, denies enlisting Afghan mercenaries to fight alongside Syrian forces in the four-year conflict against opposition Sunni rebels that has left more than 240,000 people dead and millions displaced.But interviews with Afghan fighters and relatives of combatants killed in Syria point to a vigorous – and sometimes coerced – recruitment drive of Shiite Hazara refugees by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps propping up Assad's floundering regime.Haider's premonition came true – a few days after he left, an Iranian official informed his relatives, also refugees in Tehran, that he had been killed in battle.Haider was part of a growing wave of jobless young Afghans seeking shelter in neighboring Iran from decades of turmoil and war tearing their country apart, only to be ensnared in another conflict.
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