Iran steps up its forces in Syria

Tehran, Oct 28 (IANS) Iran is increasing its military presence in Syria, a top commander has told Iranian media.

Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said on Tuesday, Iran was increasing the quality and quantity of its presence in Syria, according to a Tasnim news agency on Wednesday.

He described their mission as an advisory role to help the Syrian army loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

He said the Iranian officers were providing tactical help for Syrian commanders of battalions in direct battles, as well as weapons and ordnance, operational assistance and help with strategic planning.

He also conceded that the number of Iranian casualties in Syria increased.

A US Defence Intelligence Agency official estimated that since 2013, Iran has lost eight senior Iranian commanders in Syria, including at least six generals.

“Replacing commanders is not easy,” said a US counterterrorism official. “Iran’s deepening involvement in the conflict suggests Tehran will have to weigh the risks of propping up the Assad regime even more carefully.”

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