Another lit match is thrown onto the heap of dry tinder we call our world.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards commander says its troops are on the ground in Syria.
The Revolutionary Guards, also called the Army of the Guardians of the Iranian Revolution, is a branch of Iran’s military, founded after the 1979 Revolution that overthrew the Shah and installed an Islamic republic (theocracy) under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the populist revolution. Whereas Iran’s regular military defends the country’s borders and maintains internal order, the Revolutionary Guard (pasdaran) is intended to protect Iran’s Islamic system.
Syria is important to Iran because the rule of Syria’s embattled President al-Assad is a key part of Iran’s axis of resistance against Israel and Sunni Arab states. Iran’s brand of Islam is Shi’ite.
Marcus George reports for Reuters, Sept. 16, 2012:
Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are providing non-military assistance in Syria and Iran may get involved militarily if its closest ally comes under attack, commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Sunday.
Jafari’s statement is the first official acknowledgement that Iran has a military presence on the ground in Syria where an 18-month-old uprising has left tens of thousands dead.
Western countries and Syrian opposition groups have long suspected Iran has troops in Syria. Iran has denied this. “A number of members of the Qods force are present in Syria but this does not constitute a military presence,” Iranian news agency ISNA quoted Jafari as saying at a news conference.
Qods is an IRGC unit set up to export Iran’s ideology. It has been accused of plotting attacks inside Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
Jafari did not indicate how many IRGC members were in Syria but said they were providing “intellectual and advisory help”. […] Jafari also said Iran would change its policy and offer military backing if Syria came under attack. “I say specifically that if Syria came under military attack, Iran would also give military support but it … totally depends on the circumstances,” he said.
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