UN Ambassador Nikki Haley blasted Iran’s use of child soldiers, explaining during her remarks on Thursday that the Islamic Republic’s Basij Resistance Force engages in this appalling practice.
“The Basij Resistance Force is a paramilitary force operating under Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In addition to cracking down on dissidents and enforcing internal security in Iran, the Basij indoctrinate school children and provide combat training to children as young as 12 years old. These children are then coerced into fighting abroad for the IRGC,” Haley explained.
The outfit sends children to wage war for Syria’s Assad regime.
“Since at least early 2015, the Iranian regime has used the Basij to recruit and train Iranian children to fight in Syria to support the brutal Assad regime,” Haley said. “The Basij also targets Afghan immigrants in Iran, some as young as 14 years old, to fight in Syria.
The United States recently levied sanctions against the Iranian entities funding the Basij.
“Two days ago, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on a network of 20 Iranian corporations and financial institutions that provide funding for the Basij Resistance Force,” Haley said.
“This network is deeply entrenched in the Iranian economy," she added. "It is comprised of multibillion dollar business interests operating in Iran’s automotive, mining, metals, and banking industries. The network uses shell companies to hide the ownership of these interests. Many of the companies do substantial international business across the Middle East and Europe.”
“Iran’s economy is increasingly devoted to funding Iranian repression at home and aggression abroad,” she explained, noting that, “In this case, Iranian big business and finance are funding the war crime of using child soldiers.” She described this as “crony terrorism.”
Haley warned that those caught dealing with targeted entities could suffer consequences.
“The designations announced by the U.S. Treasury Department extend beyond property or interests in the United States or in the possession of U.S. persons. Anyone who engages in transactions with these designated entities could themselves be designated. And any foreign financial institution that knowingly engages in transactions with these entities could themselves be subject to U.S. sanctions,” she declared.
According to Haley, Iran used child soldiers back during the Iran-Iraq war. She said that Iran’s upcoming Bastij Day on October 30th commemorates “the day during the Iran-Iraq War when a 13-year-old boy strapped a live grenade to his body and leaped under an oncoming Iraqi tank.”
She noted that, “In wars between trained, adult military forces, the numbers of wounded typically outnumber the dead. But the child soldiers of Iran were used as cannon fodder and as a human mine sweeper. The dead far outpaced the wounded,” she said, adding that “according to the Iranians themselves, 36,000 school-aged children were killed and just under 3,000 were wounded in the Iran-Iraq War.”
Haley recently announced that she will step down as UN Ambassador at the end of the year—she received high praise for her work in the role.