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Afghan security officials showed journalists three alleged would-be suicide bomb attackers in the eastern city of Jalalabad on October 31.

This episode of Gandhara podcast is aimed at understanding the reasons behind the current spike in attacks on Afghan security forces.

A wave of Taliban attacks killed more than 200 Afghan Army and police soldiers across Afghanistan last month. In addition, terrorist attacks and infighting between the Taliban and Islamic State (IS) militants have complicated the picture.

The recent hike in attacks comes amid an Afghan and U.S. military campaign which is taking a heavy toll on insurgent manpower.

To understand the reasons behind the current spike in attacks, independent journalist Bilal Sarwary joined our discussion from the Afghan capital, Kabul. In Washington, Barmak Pazhwak, a senior Afghanistan analyst at the United States Institute of Peace, joined our moderator and RFE/RL Media Manager Muhammad Tahir. I contributed from Prague.

Listen to or download the Gandhara Podcast:

The views expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

FILE: A funeral of Afghan fighters in Iran.

Tehran has sent thousands of Afghans and Pakistani Shi’a to the war in Syria to fight for its ally, President Bashar al-Assad.

Tehran has sent thousands of Afghans and Pakistani Shi’a to the war in Syria to fight for its ally, President Bashar al-Assad.

Iran is keen on glorifying them as religious zealots sacrificing their lives to protect holy shrines while most are poor Afghan refugees and migrants recruited online or through a network of clerics.

They are lured by promises of glory, a good stipend, and the chance to contribute to protecting Shi’ite shrines in Syrian cities, but most of the poorly trained fighters end up becoming cannon fodder on the country’s dangerous front lines.

Current estimates suggest that the Fatemiyoun Division, mainly made up of members of the Afghan Shi’ite Hazara minority, number between 10,000 and 20,000. The Zainabyoun Brigade is much smaller and is believed to have up to 1,000 fighters recruited from among the Shi’ite communities in Pakistan’s western tribal areas.

To discuss the issue in-depth, Ahmad Shuja, an Afghan researcher who has probed the Fatemiyoun for years, joined us from Washington. Also joining from the same town was Ahmad K. Majidyar. As a Middle East and South Asia analyst at the Middle East Institute think tank in Washington, Majidyar has followed Tehran’s effort to prop up transnational militant networks. I chipped in from Prague as usual while RFE/RL Media Manager Muhammad Tahir expertly stirred our conversation from Washington.

Listen to or download the Gandhara Podcast:

The views expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

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