December 22, 2015 | Quote
Iranian Casualties Rise in Syria as Revolutionary Guards Ramp Up Role
The vehicle carrying Iranian Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani was passing through the outskirts of Aleppo on the afternoon of Oct. 8 when it was shot up by Islamic State fighters.
Hamedani was hit in the left eye by a bullet and died after the driver lost control of the vehicle. He was the most senior Revolutionary Guard commander to be killed in Syria to date and also one of a growing number of Iranian military personnel to lose their lives there.
The death of Hamedani, who played a vital role in Iranian military efforts in Syria, was described by a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the Revolutionary Guards and published by the Entekhab news site in mid-October.
It was an event that marked the start of a new development in Iran's military involvement in Syria, where experts believe Tehran may have as many as 3,000 troops.
Since early October, nearly 100 Revolutionary Guard fighters or military advisers, including at least four senior commanders, have been killed there, according to a tally from Iranian websites.
“The Revolutionary Guard is changing the outcome of the war in Syria but the war in Syria is also changing the nature of the Revolutionary Guard,” said Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an expert on the Revolutionary Guards.
“The consequences of the war in Syria for the Revolutionary Guard are huge. The Quds Force used to be a very small part of the Revolutionary Guard now you're seeing the transformation of the Revolutionary Guard into one big Quds Force.”
“No one wants to shed Iranian blood to save the throne of Bashar al-Assad but everyone hates Islamic State,” said Alfoneh.
“The public is proud of their family members fighting and even losing their lives against an anti-Iranian, anti-Shi'ite force,” he said. “They generally believe they're on the right side of history this time.”
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