Iran Says Its Elite Forces in Syria

Monday, 17 September 2012 – ZAMAN – Iran says advisers from its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps are providing non-military assistance in Syria – and that Tehran may take military action if its closest ally is attacked by outside forces.

The statement by guards’ commander Mohammad Ali Jafari on Sunday is the first official acknowledgement that Iran has a military presence in Syria, where warfare during a government crackdown on an 18-month-old opposition uprising has left thousands dead. Iranian media quoted Jafari as saying that a number of “Quds Force” members “are present in Syria.” He did not indicate how many but said they are providing “intellectual and advisory help.” The Quds Force is a Revolutionary Guards’ unit set up to export Iran’s ideology. It has been accused of plotting attacks inside Iraq since the ouster of the late dictator Saddam Hussein.

U.S. officials this month said Iraq was facilitating the transfer of weapons to Syria by opening its airspace to Iranian aircraft. Baghdad has denied the accusation. Jafari also said any Israeli attack on Iran would trigger retaliatory action against U.S. bases in the region and that trade through the Strait of Hormuz would be disrupted.