Mohammad Ali Shahidi Mahallati, the Supreme Leader’s representative to the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, said that the number of Iranian fighters killed in Syria, while defending Bashar al-Assad, exceeded one thousand.
Why did Iran announce the number of those killed, knowing that it has always been denying any involvement in the fighting and claiming that it’s only sending experts to Syria?
Did Iran unveil this number for internal reasons, due to the rise in losses, or are there other reasons?
The only justification for this Iranian announcement is that Tehran has a message to deliver to Russia and even to Assad, especially after the victory of U.S. elect-president Donald Trump. Iran wants to say that it offered sacrifices and losses that can’t be overlooked for the sake of any possible U.S.-Russian rapprochement.
Iran might be showing concerns from a possible agreement between Trump and Russia, which might result in settlements that don’t serve the interest of Iran and its objectives in Syria.
Tehran is aware that Assad’s approval or disapproval of such an agreement has no value.
Iran made this statement now to tell Russians and Americans that it can’t but be part of any settlement.
Therefore, the purpose of Iran announcing that the number of killed Iranian fighters in Syria exceeded one thousand is to stress that Tehran has a presence in Syria and has offered sacrifices that can’t be neglected.
The Financial Times newspaper revealed in a report that the Shi’ite forces, affiliated to Iran, range between 15,000 and 25,000 in Syria from Iranian, Iraqi, Lebanese and Afghan nationalities. Shi’ite forces are equal to that of the Sunni extremist fighters there (25,000).
However, the number of Sunni fighters is declining because of the war against ISIS and terrorism in general.