Syrian children, who fled with their families from the village of Hawsh Nasri in Duma, queue to receive aid from an NGO in the village of Shaffuniya in Ghouta, east of the capital Damascus, on August 13, 2016. Syria’s conflict erupted in March 2011 and has since killed more than 290,000 people and drawn in world powers on all sides. / AFP / Abd Doumany Image Credit: AFP

Tehran: Iran’s semi-official ILNA news agency is reporting that the families of at least 400 people killed fighting in Iranian brigades in Syria have been referred to the Martyr Foundation, which offers financial support to the relatives of those killed fighting for Iran.

The Saturday report quotes the head of the Martyr Foundation, Mohammad Ali Shahidi, as saying that Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard announced the number of fighters killed, saying that around half of them were Afghan.

It is the first time that an Iranian official has indicated how many people have been killed fighting in Iranian militias in Syria.

Iran has provided military and political backing to President Bashar Al Assad in Syria’s civil war.

Afghan Shiites, some of whom live in Iran, have been fighting alongside Iranian fighters in Syria.