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Scores of Dead Iranian Soldiers Spur Conflicting Stances in Iran | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Members of Iran’s Basij militia, an internal security force which has had some of its operatives deployed to Syria, Reuters

London- For the second day in a row, Iranian surging reactions continued after an Iranian official confirmation that over 34 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members were killed in the Syrian village of Khan Touman located south of Aleppo.

Other Iranian sources estimate that losses exceed all those that officials have announced.

Sources also circulated battlefield information on clashes in south Aleppo, saying the IRGC and Syrian regime forces are making preparations for a comeback campaign in Khan Touman, after they had lost the village to al-Nusra Front.

Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs in Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian previously criticized the Khan Touman operation, considering it a violation to the implemented ceasefire.

The Tehran administration, on the other hand, made no comments regarding the incessant pounding Aleppo was subjected to over the past days. Abdollahian called on the international community to condemn the Khan Touman operation, in hopes of preserving political solutions.

The IRGC had published a statement urging Iranian people to remain calm and wait for reports, soon to be published on the Khan Touman operation.

Discretion on operation details was to keep them out of opponents’ reach, the IRGC further explained.

Broadcasting the statement took place while Ali Akbar Velayati, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s advisor, was delivering confidential notes sent by Khamenei to the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar Assad, in Damascus.

Iranian media outlets, contradictory to previous claims, confirmed a score of Iranian captives being taken in Syria. “Entekhab,” a reform inclined Iranian website, was the sole outlet confirming the death of 80 Iranian and Afghani soldiers.

Meanwhile, other media networks, relying on the IRGC statement, acknowledged only 34 Iranian soldiers either being dead or injured.

Quds Force commander Soleimani and the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, Ali Shamkhani, were expected to give a speech on Iran’s defense strategy against current regional developments.

However, Soleimani made no public appearance in Tehran on Sunday, in light of rumors of his presence in Aleppo to run the Khan Touman battles.

ISNA, Iranian Students News Agency, mentioned that Shamkhani did in fact give his speech; however, behind closed doors. Iranian authorities kept the details to the speech confidential and refrained from making any comments on whether Soleimani was in Iran or not.

Shamkhani, on the death of Iranian soldiers in Aleppo, said that “what had happened in Khan Touman confirmed Iranian fears.” He reiterated previous official stances on the ceasefire giving the Syrian opposition the chance to rearrange their forces in the field.

When meeting with new parliamentary members, Shamkhani defended the notion on sending more Iranian military forces to Syria. His argument was pivoted on alleged regional security threats directed against Iran and how they should be confronted using all means, ISNA reported.

Iranian sources, two days ago, cited Soleimani heading for Aleppo, after a mass loss striking Iranian soldiers in Khan Touman on Thursday and Friday.

Same sources clarified that Soleimani is expected to oversee battlefield progress from operation rooms which bring together Russian forces, Syrian regime forces and Quds Force members. Tactics are being devoted as to eventually break through to Khan Touman.