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War Fatalities Expose Iranian Army Flow into Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Mohammad Mouradi’s funeral service in Isfahan on Wednesday

London-Iran had recently admitted to the grave losses suffered by its deployed units due to military operations in Syria’s Aleppo rocketing. Officials have announced at least five Iranian soldiers dead, who were lost in the latest battle in southwestern Aleppo.

The statement of the officials said that the five Iranian soldiers were allegedly killed by “takfiri terrorists” —the term is frequently used by the Iranian government to label Sunni opposition forces and not exclusive to militants affiliated with internationally recognized terror organizations or those who actually fit the description.

Officials said that the five were killed in action.

A Basij medical officer was also reported dead on August 3. Basij forces are a paramilitary force affiliated with Iran’s revolutionary Guard.

Fatemiyoun Division, an Afghan Shi’ite militia formed in 2014 to Defend Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, also reported that one of its top leaders got killed.

The division, also referred to as the Fatemiyoun Brigade, is funded, trained, and equipped by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

The Long Wall Journal also reported that Iranian officials announced on Aug 1 the death of a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War from Ardebil who was a member of the IRGC paramilitary Basij. Social media posts on pro-IRGC online circles reportedly show a welcoming ceremony held on Aug 1 for a wounded IRGC major who commands the 102nd Imam Hossein Battalion of Harand in Isfahan province.

A member of the IRGC’s Alborz province unit was killed on July 31, and his death was announced the following day.

Army Third Lieutenant Mohammad Moradi was also killed in Aleppo on August 1.

There has been heavy fighting for control of the Aleppo Artillery School southwest of the city. Prior to deploying to Syria, Moradi had served in the 22nd Artillery Group of Shahreza County in Isfahan province.

Amir Toumaj, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, also wrote that the deaths point out a continuous flow of Iranian regime-dispatched forces into Syria, as part of a military campaign led by Iran’s revolutionary Guard.

Army commanders publicly confirmed in April the deployment of special forces, following weeks of hints and announcements offering their services in Syria, wrote Toumaj.

Special forces were defeated in one of their first major battles in Aleppo at the hands of the battle-hardened al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, which is now called Jabhat al Fatah al Sham. Iran has acknowledged the deaths of seven Army commandos, all in April.

With the backing of Russian airpower, the IRGC, Iranian-backed militias, and allies succeeded in closing in on Aleppo last week.

In early July, pro-Assad forces launched the operation to link forces from the north and west of the city at Castello Road, the last Syrian opposition supply route to the city. The Iranian Guard confirmed five fatalities during the course of the operation, including two majors on July 13.

At least 42 Afghan and Pakistani militants were killed last month, with dozens killed before July 21.

Assad-backing army, YPG, and Russia dealt the finishing blows last week, completing the encirclement of Aleppo.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was even more instrumental in laying the foundations for Aleppo’s siege in February, cutting off rebel supply route to Turkey with the assistance of YPG, Russia, and Iranian-backed militias including Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqi Shi’ite militias, the Afghan Fatemiyoun Division, and Syrian National Defense Forces. The IRGC put far more of its own ground forces in that operation, losing more than 40 soldiers, including brigadier generals.

The IRGC prefers to rely on foreign proxies as boots on the ground in Syria with Guard officers advising and leading operations, though the top command has not hesitated to introduce its own regular ground forces if necessary.