Hundreds of Iranian Revolutionary Guards soldiers are fighting in Syria alongside President Bashar al-Assad's forces and mercenary Hezbollah terrorists, an Israeli security source confirmed Thursday, despite – or, perhaps, because of – Assad's losses in the four-year civil war.
Soldiers are primarily flocking to Zabadani, near the Lebanon border, the source stated to Channel 2. Battles between rebel forces and the Assad-Hezbollah front have raged for some time in the region – and Assad is losing.
Control over the strategic region could have large-reaching implications for the Middle East. Zabadani overlooks the Damascus-Beirut highway as well as vast swathes of Lebanon; the victor could have an advantage in the event the battle formally expands into Lebanese borders.
The sources added that Israel does not plan to interfere in the battle, despite Iranian involvement.
Iranian soldiers have never been formally confirmed to be fighting within Syria – although officials have publicly supported the idea before.
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, though Assad a few months ago denied there were any Iranian troops in Syria.
While Iran has financially backed both Assad and Hezbollah throughout the conflict, the Islamic Republic has also become involved diplomatically, even submitting its own peace plan to Assad last week. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian gave no details about the plan, but insisted Assad must play a central role in the event a diplomatic solution was reached.