Iranian forces in Syria, claims top officer

 

A SENIOR commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has admitted that Iranian forces are operating in Syria in support of the Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Ismail Gha’ani, the deputy head of Iran’s Quds force, the external arm of the Revolutionary Guards tasked with its overseas operations, said in an interview with the semi-official Isna news agency: “If the Islamic republic was not present in Syria, the massacre of people would have happened in a much larger scale.”

Isna published the interview at the weekend and subsequently removed it from its website.

It quoted Mr Gha’ani as saying: “Before our presence in Syria, too many people were killed by the opposition but with the physical and non-physical presence of the Islamic republic, big massacres in Syria were prevented.” Iran had been accused by the West of providing military and technical support to Mr Assad in suppressing the protesters since the beginning of the uprising in Syria. Iranian officials in return played down the accusations by saying the country only supported Syria morally.

“This is the first time that an IRGC senior officer has admitted that the Quds force is operating in Syria,” said Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-Israeli Middle East expert. “This could be due to the Iranian government feeling threatened by the increasing isolation of Syria and the dangers which such isolation and possible fall of Assad could pose to its interests in Syria, and to its Hizbullah allies in Lebanon.

“By making such an admission now, Iran may very well be wishing to send the message that when it comes to Syria the gloves are off and whoever wants to confront Assad will be confronting Iran’s most experienced and potent special forces operatives.” – (Guardian service)