Iran 'sending commandos' to Syria as intervention casualties mount
Iranian army commandos and military advisors have been sent to Syria, according to Iranian news agency Tasnim.
Amir-Ali Arasteh, the deputy for coordination in the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces said that that the Iranian commandos, from Brigade 65 of the Forces, will take on a mission of advising Syrian forces.
In March, Arasteh declared that Iran would also send police officers from special forces and units of military snipers as advisors, adding that the troops were subject to intense training.
Tasnim also reported the death of Mashallah Shamsa, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) commander, in Aleppo on Saturday.
The following day Iranian military commanders Jamal Riza and Saeed Musafer were also killed battling rebels outside Syria's second city bringing the death toll of Iranians killed in Syira to 212.
A key ally and backer of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, Iran has sent members of the elite force to act as "advisers" to Syrian regime forces and to organise militia units with volunteers from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tehran also arms and supports Lebanon's Hizballah movement, which has itself dispatched forces to shore up the Syrian regime against local rebel forces.
|Hizballah lost several fighters over the weekend, including Ali Fawzi Taha, a commander directly responsible for Madaya siege|
Hizballah sustains casualties
A number of Hizbollah militias were also killed in clashes over the weekend with al-Nusra in Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
According to local journalists, this included Ali Fawzi Taha, Hizbollah’s chief commander in Syria who was directly responsible for the Madaya siege due to his leading role in the Zabadani offensive.
Preceding the current ceasefire in Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Iran has withdrawn a "significant number" of its Revolutionary Guards troops from the Syrian battlefield.
Iranian military interference in Syria had been sidelined since Russia catapulted its air force into the conflict in September in order to back the regime. However following Russia’s alleged withdrawal of ground troops, it may appear that Iran is ready to step in.
Although relations between Iran and Russia have seemingly strengthened due to their shared short-term aims in Syria, analysts have said that conflict may later emerge between the two powers due to differing motives for involvement.