Commander says Iranian forces will stay in Syria as long as Assad needs them

Special to

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iran will continue providing military assistance to Syria despite the death of more than a thousand Iranian fighters in the conflict, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has said.

“We will continue our advisory help as long as they need it,” Mohammad Pakpour, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps ground forces, told Iran’s Fars news agency.

Iranian Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour.

“The advisory help isn’t only in the field of planning but also on techniques and tactics,” he said. “And because of this the forces have to be present on the battlefield.”

Iran has provided military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces since at least 2012. A handful of Iranian commanders have been killed along with hundreds of Iranian fighters.

Pakpour said the Revolutionary Guards’ ground forces were in Syria to help the Quds Force, the branch responsible for operations outside of Iran’s own borders.

“There is very close coordination between the Syrian Army and the Revolutionary Guards advisers,” Pakpour said.

Iran also has helped to train and organize thousands of Shi’ite militia fighters from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to fight in Syria. Lebanon’s Hizballah militias also work closely with Iranian forces there.