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The New Arab & agencies

More than 1,000 Iranian fighters killed in Syria

Iran denies having any boots on the ground in Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 November, 2016

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Iran has admitted that the death toll of Iranian troops and militants fighting in Syria for Bashar al-Assad has gone over the 1,000 mark.

More than 1,000 combatants sent from Iran to fight in support of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria have been killed during the conflict, the head of Iran's veterans' affairs office admitted on Tuesday.

"The number of martyrs from our country defending the shrines has now passed 1,000," the Tasnim news agency quoted Mohammad Ali Shahidi Mahalati, the head of Iran's Foundation of Martyrs' and Veterans' Affairs, as saying.

Iran has sent military advisers, as well as fighters recruited from Afghanistan and Pakistan, to work with Assad's forces. They are known in Iran as "defenders of the shrines" in reference to Shia holy sites in Syria.

Shahidi did not specify the nationalities of those killed.

Shia Iran is a staunch supporter of Assad and provides both financial and military support for his regime.

The Fatemiyoun Division of Afghan recruits organised by Iran comprises the majority of volunteers sent from Iran to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Iran said they are sent to fight against Sunni extremists such as the Islamic State group.

The Islamic republic denies having any boots on the ground in Syria, and insists its commanders and generals of the elite Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations wing act as "military advisers" both there and in Iraq.

Iranian media regularly report on the death of Iranian, Afghan and Pakistani "martyrs" in Syria, whose bodies are buried in Iran.

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