Iran Strengthens Its Backing for Assad, Admits Troops in Syria
A senior Iranian military commander’s reported admission that Iranian forces are operating in Syria to stiffen the embattled regime of President Bashar Assad underlines how bad things are for Syria’s divided opposition.
This and reports that Russian and North Korean arms are reaching Damascus could propel Assad’s leading Arab foes, the monarchies of the Persian Gulf led by Saudi Arabia, to step up clandestine shipment of arms and ammunition to Syrian rebels.
The main arms pipeline to the rebels is through northern Lebanon, a region dominated by Sunnis with close ties to their co-religionists in neighboring Syria.
They’re the majority in Syria and constitute the main driving force behind the revolution that will shortly enter its 15th month with Assad’s opponents dangerously divided.
On Monday, Ismail Gha’ani, a top commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Iranian’s regime’s Praetorian Guard, was quoted as saying in an interview with Iran’s semi-official Isna news agency that, not only were Iranian forces in Syria, they were preventing Assad’s forces from slaughtering civilians.
“If the Islamic Republic was not present in Syria, the massacre of people would have happened on a much larger scale,” he said.