Iranian soldiers fighting for Syria, State contends
Iran has sent soldiers to Syria to fight alongside forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and those of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday.
An unknown number of Iranians are fighting inside Syria, the official said, citing accounts from opposition forces supported by Western and Arab governments. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview a strategy session that Secretary of State John Kerry will engage on Wednesday with key opposition supporters.
Syrian rebels have claimed for weeks that Iran is sending trained fighters to the Syrian civil war, and Iran-backed Hezbollah has said that it will not let Assad fall.
But with the British, French and American governments considering arms for the opposition on a scale not yet reported in the more than two-year conflict, the official's allegation was a new acknowledgment that the Syrian conflict has become a regional war and a de facto U.S. proxy fight with Iran.
“This is an important thing to note, the direct implication of foreigners fighting on Syrian soil now for the regime,” the official said.
Kerry is on a dual mission in the Middle East this week to foster political talks between Assad's resurgent regime and the embattled rebels, and to inaugurate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The State official said the Syrian opposition, which is badly split, has not finalized its representative to the talks on Wednesday in Amman, Jordan. The Amman session is intended to align strategies before a larger conference in Switzerland that would bring together the Russian- and Iranian-backed Assad regime, and the Western-backed rebels.
Russia appears to be hedging its bets, as the official acknowledged. Assad's forces are being resupplied from somewhere, the official said, and not all of the armaments can be explained away as a continuation of old, pre-civil war contracts.
Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed two weeks ago to jointly lobby the opposition and regime to sit down for talks.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Convict’s wish for assisted suicide OK’d in Belgium
- Turks, fleeing Kurds battle as Islamic State besieges town in Iraq