ANKARA- Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) revealed on Wednesday that many Iranians have volunteered to fight in Syria in support of al-Assad regime, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. Shi’ite-dominated Iran is Assad’s main regional ally and has provided him with military and economic support, especially with his conflict with ISIS and the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.
Although no numbers were given, however “General Ramezan Sharif said young Iranians from different ethnicities have volunteered to go to Syria in support of the Syrian government.
Tehran said last month that military commandos had also been dispatched to Syria as advisers, suggesting it was using its regular army as well as forces from the IRGC, while it denies today having any conventional armed forces there.
Nevertheless, Iran’s army chief later said those personnel were volunteers working under IRGC supervision, and that the regular army was not directly involved.
Noting that, serious losses were sustained in the past few months including several high-ranking members of the IRGC. Iranian media have reported the death of over 100 members of the IRGC and its affiliated volunteer, the Basij militia, in Syria.
The United States, Saudi Arabia and some other Western and Gulf states plus Turkey back rebels fighting to remove Assad, who has military support from Russia and Iran.
“Syria is the golden ring of resistance front,” Ali Akbar Velayati, top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Iran’s Student News Agency ISNA.
“If Assad and the Syrian people fail in their fight against Takfiri (hardline Sunni Islamist) groups…, their next target will be (Shi’ite-led) Iraq, followed by Iran,” he said.