Iranian state-run media is reporting that five Iranian Shrine Defenders, including two high-ranking commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), were killed in the fighting in Syria.
Iran’s state-run Fars news agency said that Khairollah Samadi, an IRGC commander in charge of a unit in Syria, was among the dead.
The name Shrine Defenders is what Tehran calls its fighters stationed in Syria. It claims that forces are to protect the Zeinab Shrine, a Shi’ite holy site near Damascus.
Since 2011, Iran has been a major backer of the Syrian regime in its war against anti-Assad groups across the country and it organized a multinational army that also allegedly includes fighters from Lebanon and Iraq.
Some Iranian government-sponsored media outlets have also released video footage that shows fighters from Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian-sponsored Iraqi Popular Mobilized Forces (PMF) helping the Syrian Army in their operation in the recently liberated Syrian town of Abu Kamal.
Some Iranian media outlets have released a video showing Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani greeted by victorious soldiers in Abu Kamal.
“With the liberation of Abu Kamal, we secured the region from IS and other foreigners,” said Qasim Muslih, a commander with PMF. “No matter if you call it Shia Crescent, or whatever you want to name it, we have a fortified bloc here.”
Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iranian leader Ali Khamenei said that their forces will join Syrian troops soon to capture the city of Raqqa, somehow ignoring the fact that the city is already largely cleared by US-led peshmerga troops, which the Assad government characterized as “illegal invaders.”
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