World News

Iranian commandos deployed to Syria as advisers: officer

Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad walk in the town of al-Qaryatain, Syria, after they recaptured it in this picture provided by SANA on April 3, 2016. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has sent commandos to Syria as advisers, a military official said on Monday, suggesting it is using its army as well as paramilitary forces to help President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the country’s civil war.

Tehran is Assad’s main regional ally and has provided military and economic support to his fight against rebel groups and Islamic State militants.

“We are sending commandos from army’s Brigade 65 and other units to Syria as advisers,” General Ali Arasteh, deputy chief liaison of the army’s ground force, was quoted as saying by the Tasnim news agency.

Arasteh said last month that Iran at some point might decide to use commandos and snipers from its regular armed forces as military advisers in Iraq and Syria.

To date, most Iranians involved in Syria’s war have been from the paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Iran is believed to have sent hundreds of them as military advisers.

An increasing death toll among Iranian fighters since October last year indicates Tehran’s forces are taking a more active role in the conflict.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by William Maclean; Editing by Tom Heneghan