Iranian Army Chief: We Have No Troops In Syria, Only ‘Volunteers’

Washington, D.C.

Iranian troops in Syria are only volunteers operating under the supervision of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, claimed the commander-in-chief of the Islamic Republic’s military.

Ataollah Salehi, the army chief, was quoted by Iran’s Tasnim news agency as saying, “Some volunteers have been sent to Syria, under the supervision of the related organization, and among them there might be some of the Brigade 65 forces.”

“The army has no responsibility (for) military advice given in Syria,” he added.

Rudaw notes that Brigade 65 is an elite commando brigade of Iran’s army.

“Before its recent deployment Iranian forces in Syria had mostly been part of the extraterritorial branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), the so-called Quds Brigade,” adds Rudaw.

Although Iran has maintained that the IRGC forces in Syria are only advisers, many of them have been killed in battle, including commanders.

Iran has been an ardent supporter of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

Along with its terror proxy Hezbollah and Russia, Iran has helped Assad fight the Syrian opposition, which they consider terrorists.

In late February, various news media outlets reported that Iran was planning to withdraw 2,500 IRGC troops and Basiji paramilitary combat soldiers from Syria.

Israel’s Channel 2 reported that 700 military advisers would remain behind to assist the Assad regime.

Moreover, Iran is expected to continue arming and supporting the Lebanese-based Hezbollah group.

Also in February, the Russian government vowed to increase military cooperation with Iran in support of Assad.

Despite an international travel ban, Iran’s Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani reportedly flew to Moscow to discuss Syria and the delivery of Russian missiles earlier this month.

Iran-backed Shiite militias in Syria operate under the direction of Soleimani, a Revolutionary Guard general charged with most of Tehran’s expeditionary missions in Syria and across the Middle East.

In September 2015, Russia reached an agreement with Iraq, Syria, and Iran to work together on behalf of the Assad regime.

Both Iran and Russia have opposed the U.S.-backed ouster of Assad.