Iranian Weapons Help Bashar Assad Put Down Syria Protests, Officials Say
Iran is providing a broad array of assistance to Syrian President Bashar Assad to help him suppress anti-government protests, from high-tech surveillance technology to guns and ammunition, U.S. and European security officials say.
Tehran’s technical assistance to Assad’s security forces includes electronic surveillance systems, technology designed to disrupt efforts by protesters to communicate via social media, and Iranian-made drone aircraft for overhead surveillance, the officials said. They discussed intelligence matters on condition of anonymity.
“Over the past year, Iran has provided security assistance to Damascus to help shore up Assad. Tehran during the last couple of months has been aiding the Syrian regime with lethal assistance - including rifles, ammunition, and other military equipment — to help it put down the opposition,” a U.S. official said.
“Iran has provided Damascus (with) monitoring tools to help the regime suppress the opposition. It has also shared techniques on Internet surveillance and disruption,” the official continued.
He added that Iran had also provided Assad’s government with “unarmed drones that Damascus is using along with its own technology to monitor opposition forces.”
Iranian security officials have also traveled to Damascus to advise Assad’s entourage how to counter dissent, the official said. Some Iranian officials have stayed on in Syria to advise Assad’s forces, he added.
Iran’s multi-pronged security aid to Syria appears to have helped Assad’s government in its increasingly violent campaign to hold on to power in the face of a year-long protest movement. The United Nations estimates 8,000 civilians have died in the conflict.
However, the U.S. and European officials said the Syrian government’s survival is not totally dependent on continuing help from Tehra