A senior commander in Iran’s Army told reporters on Mar. 23 that Special Forces would be deployed as “advisors” to Syria and Iraq. This would mark the first time that Army forces – in this case, commandos and snipers of the Rapid Response Battalions – will have operated outside Iranian borders since the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) military presence in the country is well-documented, but the announcement denotes the first time Iran’s Army has formally contributed to military operations in Syria, which has been an IRGC-led campaign since Tehran first began sending significant resources to the country four years ago.

Iran’s decision to integrate Army special forces into major foreign operations underscore its commitment to hone its expeditionary capabilities. In fact, the Army’s involvement in Syria may have begun several months ago, as the head of its ground forces did not deny a report of an Army helicopter spotted flying from Iraq to Syria in December.

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