Iran is to step up its military support for the Syrian regime in the form of advice on fighting terrorism, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said Saturday, according to AFP.
Abdollahian, quoted by state television, denied however that his country had fighters on the ground in the Syrian conflict.
"We have military advisers in Iraq and Syria at the request of the governments of the two countries … We are going to step up our aid to Syria in the form of advice on the fight against terrorism," he claimed.
Iran is the key regional ally of Syrian President Bashar-Al Assad, providing him with financial and military support.
Near the start of the Syrian civil war, it was reported Iran’s former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad personally sanctioned the dispatch of officers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to fight alongside Assad’s troops.
On Friday, an American official said as many as 2,000 fighters from Iran and its regional allies were supporting Syrian army's offensives against rebels in coordination with Russia.
A senior Iranian official said Thursday on a visit to Syria that Tehran would consider sending fighters if Damascus requested them.
"If Syria makes a request (for Iranian forces), we will study the request and make a decision," said Alaedin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee.
"What's important is that Iran is serious about the fight against terrorism," he added. "We have supplied aid and weapons and sent advisors to Syria and Iraq."
Meanwhile, in what could be a sign that Iran is stepping up its military support for Syria, Iran's top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, was spotted in Syria this week addressing Iranian military officers and members of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.
Soleimani, who is listed as a terrorist by the United States, is one of several Iranian officials targeted by a 2007 United Nations travel ban because of their alleged links to Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs, but the sanctions against him are due to be lifted in the event the Iran nuclear deal is implemented.
AFP contributed to this report.