by WorldTribune Staff, November 4, 2016
Iran has deployed a secret, 25,000-strong Shi’ite militia to Syria with the sole purpose of fighting anti-Assad regime Sunni rebels, an Israeli official said.
Avi Dichter, chair of Israel’s foreign affairs and defense committee, told a visiting Swiss delegation on Nov. 3 that the Iranian-backed force was made mostly of recruits from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“This is a foreign legion of some 25,000 militants,” Dichter said. “They are fighting in Syria only against the rebels and not against ISIL.”
It was not clear what the source of Dichter’s information was, but he receives intelligence briefings in his role.
Iran also has a large number of Hizbullah fighters in Syria. Dichter said at least 1,600 Hizbullah fighters have been killed in the Syrian conflict so far.
“The Iranians enlisted Hizbullah … to fight in Syria because the Iranian army is better suited to fight as an army against another army, while the Hizbullah militants are adept at fighting against terror groups,” he said.
“The fighting has made (Hizbullah) a better fighting force and more adept in conventional military warfare.”
Dichter told the delegation that Iran’s ultimate “dream” is to rule the Islamic holy sites of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
“Everybody should ask themselves why the Iranians are building missiles with a range of 2,000 km, twice the distance (from their territory) to Israel,” he said.
“Egypt is also within their range, as is Saudi Arabia. Two thousands years ago, Iran was an empire and now it wants to recreate that.”
Dichter said that was why Israel was convinced Iran had not abandoned its nuclear aspirations but only put them on hold, playing a long game against the West.