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Syria, Number of ISIS Fighters Drops, Iranian Troops Increase Presence as Hezbollah Death Toll Shoots Up | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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IRGC Brigadier Reda Ansari’s funeral- TASNIM

IRGC Brigadier Reda Ansari's funeral- TASNIM

IRGC Brigadier Reda Ansari’s funeral- TASNIM

In light of the Syrian ceasefire closing in, many are talking about the declining number of ISIS fighters. Initially, ISIS terrorists were the reason behind many of the international instigation battlefronts in Syria. Moreover, reports came in showing spiked-up figures of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) troops fighting side-by-side with regime forces, especially after the increase of Hezbollah deaths number on Syrian battlefronts.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy announced that the Lebanese-based Hezbollah death toll rise in Syria has pushed Tehran towards sending more of the IRGC troops to fight there. The Institute states that not less than 865 Hezbollah combatants were killed between September 2012 and February 2016 in Syria.

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that Iran is using Afghani refugees to fight along with Hezbollah and the President Assad supporter’s forces in Syria. The ministry’s online website pointed out that, days ago, Iran sent thousands of Shi’ite Afghani refugees to fight alongside the IRGC and Hezbollah. Refugees in Iran are being threatened with deportation back to Afghanistan should they not fight beside Iranian forces.

Thousands of Afghani troops are joining the “al-Fatimiyin” brigade; the second largest group of combatants fighting next to the Assad regime, foreign affairs reported. According to western media up to 10to 12 thousand units have joined the pro-Assad forces.

Two days ago an Iranian agency gave details on 68 IRGC soldiers being killed last month in brawls against the Syrian Opposition, most of which have died in Aleppo’s northern rural areas.

“Modafee’en Harm”, a website that covers news on Iranian fighters in Syria, published that senior officers were among those reported to be killed, IRGC troops, and Basij volunteers. The website confirmed that IRGC and Basij forces’ presence has increased in Syria over the last weeks. Reports confirmed that Iranian forces, Afghani, Pakastani, and Iraqi Shi’ite militias have around 60 thousand units fighting on multiple fronts in Syria. Other reports have estimated that the number of foreign fighters in Syria actually reached up to 27 thousand.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that over 38 thousand foreign fighters have headed for Syria in 2012. Clapper confirmed, in a recent speech at the 52nd Munich Security Conference (MSC), that 38.2 thousand foreign armed combatants, with at least 6900 from the West, have gone to Syria since 2012. According to Clapper, the fighters come from at least a different 120 countries.

In the ballpark, the Assad regime -defector Col. Zaher al-Saket pointed out that the majority of foreign combatants participating at the clashes in Syria are joining either ISIS or the Assad regime in their fight against the Syrian Opposition. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that there are no foreign fighters among the ranks of the Free Syrian Army, unlike al-Nusra Front in which foreign fighters are at a 5 percent of their fighting force. Jund al-Aqsa, another group fighting in Syria, has a foreign 10 percent of its make-up.