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Iran increasing 'secret aid' to Syria - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Anti-Syrian regime protesters hold up a banner in Arabic reading: "thank you Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait," during a demonstration, in Idlib, north Syria. (AP)

Anti-Syrian regime protesters hold up a banner in Arabic reading: “thank you Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait,” during a demonstration, in Idlib, north Syria. (AP)

WASHINGTON, (AFP) — Iran is stepping up its military and intelligence support for Syrian government troops in their crackdown against opposition strongholds, The Washington Post reported late Saturday.

Citing three unnamed US officials with access to intelligence reports from the region, the newspaper said Tehran had increased supplies of arms and other aid for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad as he is trying crush resistance in the key city of Homs.

“The aid from Iran is increasing, and is increasingly focused on lethal assistance,” the paper quotes one of the officials as saying.

Reports supported by US intelligence findings indicate that an Iranian operative was recently wounded while working with Syrian security forces inside the country, the paper said.

“They’ve supplied equipment, weapons and technical assistance — even monitoring tools — to help suppress unrest,” The Post quoted the official as saying of Iranians. “Iranian security officials also traveled to Damascus to help deliver this assistance.”

A second senior US official said Iran has recently dispatched members of its main intelligence service, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, to Damascus to assist in advising and training Syrian counterparts in charge of the crackdown, according to the report.

The head of the Quds Force, Brigier General Qassem Suleimani, also has paid at least one visit to Damascus in recent weeks, the paper noted, citing US officials.

Syrian refugee children warm their hands at a fire in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, March 3, 2012. (R)

Syrian refugee children warm their hands at a fire in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, March 3, 2012. (R)

A woman walks next to a graffiti that reads in broken English: "Go Out Bashar" referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad, in Idlib, north Syria. (AP)

A woman walks next to a graffiti that reads in broken English: “Go Out Bashar” referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad, in Idlib, north Syria. (AP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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