Following in the footsteps of the “Cubs of the Caliphate” and other sectarian schools, Iran is seeking to recruit Syrian children and teenagers, and influence their religious beliefs in order to foster a culture of loyalty to the regime of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Through the creation of Shia missionary schools, the country seeks to take advantage of these children so they will its serve political purposes in a variety of Syrian provinces. In these schools, it is believed that these children are receiving pro-Shia indoctrination.Although purporting to be a humanitarian volunteer activity that has been ongoing for many years and is far from any political and religious goals, Iran has been engaging in this type of activity since 2012, when Iranian Revolutionary Guards Maj.-Gen. Hassan Shateri started working to create an “Islamic generation following Vilayet Al Fakih [a guardianship-based political system] that adhered to the teachings of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.”Through the official page of the Syrian State Scouts on Facebook, one can see children with photos of Iran’s Supreme leader and Iranian flags participating in activities. One can view them partaking in Shia religious customs, such as Ashura ceremonies, in Latkia and Damascus. They also participate in marches in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.The shirts worn by these children bear religious slogans, such as “Ya Hussein” and “Al Zahara” as well as the red and green flags of Hezbollah. Children between the ages of eight and 16 bear the name “imam’s soldiers” while taking lessons about weapons and how to aim and fire at fixed targets, in what appear to be training camps for Shia militias.
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