The Wall Street Journal Reports: Iran is sending commanders from its elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and hundreds of foot soldiers to Syria, according to current and former members of the corps.
The personnel moves come on top of what these people say are Tehran’s stepped-up efforts to aid the military of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with cash and arms. That would indicate that regional capitals are being drawn deeper into Syria’s conflict—and undergird a growing perception among Mr. Assad’s opponents that the regime’s military is increasingly strained.
A commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, appeared to offer Iran’s first open acknowledgment of its military involvement in Syria.
“Today we are involved in fighting every aspect of a war, a military one in Syria and a cultural one as well,” Gen. Salar Abnoush, commander of IRGC’s Saheb al-Amr unit, told volunteer trainees in a speech Monday. The comments, reported by the Daneshjoo news agency, which is run by regime-aligned students, couldn’t be independently verified. Top Iranian officials had previously said the country isn’t involved in the conflict.
Iran has long trained members of the Syrian security apparatus in cybersecurity and spying on dissidents, U.S. officials and Syrian opposition members have said. The decision to send Iranian personnel comes after rebel attacks this summer in Syria’s biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, in particular an explosion in July that killed four members of Mr. Assad’s inner circle, according to the people familiar with the IRGC.