Iran to the rescue: Thousands of special ops troops said arriving in Syria

Special to

NICOSIA — Iran was said to have poured thousands of elite troops
into Syria.

The Syrian opposition said thousands of members of Iran’s Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps have arrived in Syria. Opposition sources said the
Iranian troops came from special operations units, with many of them skilled
in sniper and explosives.

Syrian troops celebrate after the Army is said ot have cleared a neighborhood of rebels in Damascus.

“They have come over the last week to save the regime [of President
Bashar Assad],” Abdul Jabar Al Oqueidi, commander of the rebel forces in Aleppo, said.

Al Oqueidi, chairman of the rebel military council in Aleppo, said the
Iranians were meant to replace the tens of thousands of Sunni who deserted the Syrian Army. He said at least 3,000 of the IRGC troops were trained in sniper missions.

It was not clear how Al Oqueidi acquired his information. Other rebel
sources, however, said they have intercepted communications of regime forces that spoke either Farsi or Arabic with a distinct non-Syrian accent.

The Iranians were said to have been participating in Assad military
campaigns in both Aleppo and Damascus. In Aleppo, an estimated 20,000 Syrian
Army troops were awaiting orders to invade the nation’s business capital and
largest city.

Aleppo has come under artillery shelling as well as strikes by the
Syrian Air Force. The Syrian military estimated that up to 8,000 rebels were
in Aleppo.

The military has reported that it regained control over the Damascus
area. In an unusual move, the Army led a tour for journalists of former
rebel positions on Aug. 3.

“We have cleansed all the districts of Damascus, from Al Midan to Mazeh,
from Al Hajar Al Aswad to Qadam to Tadamun,” a Syrian Army officer said.

The Free Syrian Army said many of the IRGC personnel in Syria were in
civilian clothes. FSA said it captured 48 IRGC officers outside Damascus
International Airport disguised as pilgrims and part of a 150-man
reconnaissance unit.

“During the investigation, we found that some of them were officers of
IRGC,” an FSA officer said in a video statement. “They were on a
reconnaissance mission in Damascus.”

Western intelligence sources said Teheran has deployed several thousand
IRGC troops as well as nearly 10,000 fighters from the Iranian proxy
Hizbullah. But they said the Syrian Army under Assad, who has not been seen
for nearly two weeks, remained responsible for combat operations throughout
the country.

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