Iran confirmed on Sunday what has long been suspected: It is providing assistance to the Syrian government in its war against an uprising. Iran's Qods Force is also operating in Lebanon.
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The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard officially confirmed that his organization is assisting the Syrian government side of that country's civil war. The statement is the first public confirmation of Iran's involvement in the Syrian conflict.
Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari told a press conference in Tehran Sunday that members of the Qods Force, the Revolutionary Guards' international branch, are currently operating in Syria and Lebanon, Haaretz reports.
Members of the force are not currently providing military assistance, but give advice and "opinions" in a number of areas in which Iran has experience, Jafari said. He added that they were also assisting on the financial level.
If Syria were attacked militarily however, Jafari said, his troops will provide support, although he did not provide any further details.
Jafari told reporters, "We are proud to defend Syria, which constitutes a resistance to the Zionist entity," adding that Iran provides advice based on its expertise, while other countries support terror organizations.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and most of his top regime officials are Alawites, a religion that began as an offshoot of Shiite Islam, Iran's predominant religion. But Alawites are a minority within Syria, where the majority of the country is Sunni, including many of the rebels.