Iranian women mourn during the funeral ceremony of Ali Amraei and Hassan Ghaffari, who were killed in fighting against Daesh in Syria, in southern Tehran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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In demonstrations across Iran, chants are going up against the military's vast and shadowy war in Syria, one of Tehran's closest allies and a front-line state in its confrontation with its archenemy, Israel. Although the protests have focused on economic issues, demonstrators have also voiced opposition to the government's policy of sending young Iranians to fight and die in Syria and spending billions of dollars on the military when they say the priority should be working to provide jobs in Iran and control the rising cost of living. Syria saw its own anti-government protests in 2011 .Today, Iran's military and an array of regional militias under its command operate with wide latitude in both Syria and Iraq.Iran has not disclosed how many of its soldiers have been lost in Syria.Iran and Assad have relied on Hezbollah for some of the toughest missions in Syria.Human Rights Watch says Iran's Revolutionary Guard has recruited Afghan refugee children as young as 14 to fight in Syria, identifiable by their tombstones in Iran. It says Iranian media memorialized child soldiers and hailed Iranian fighters as young as 13 in the Syria battle. Iran also leans heavily on the battle-hardened fighters of Iraq's state-sanctioned Al-Hashd al-Shaabi, which has been instrumental to defeating Daesh militants on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border and opening a corridor of Iranian influence that runs from Tehran to Beirut.
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