Iranian troops prepare to aid Russia with Syrian ground assault, officials say – Fox News
More Iranian troops have arrived in Syria for an upcoming ground operation to accompany Russian airstrikes, defense officials confirm to Fox News.
“It has always been understood in this building that the Russians would provide the air force, and the Iranians would provide the ground force in Syria,” one official said.
Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters, “We know the Iranians are a part of this. We’ve known that since day one.”
The officials speaking to Fox News could not disclose the size of this new Iranian force due to the sensitivity of the information.
These Iranian forces are under the command of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the Quds Force commander in charge of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s international operations, which runs a network of proxy forces throughout the Middle East, including Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon.
Fox News first reported a secret meeting between Soleimani and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which took place in late July. Part of the discussions between Soleimani and Putin was the future Russian build up in Syria, coordinated closely with Iran.
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In addition, sources tell Reuters that Lebanese Hezbollah forces will soon arrive to aid in the ground operation. Hezbollah, a Russian and Iranian ally, has fought alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces since early in the Syrian civil war.
The goal of the operation would be to recapture territory the Syrian government lost to rebels, not specifically to target ISIS, those sources tell Reuters.
Meantime, Russia’s foreign minister maintains Moscow and the US coalition “see eye-to-eye” on the targets in Syria.
“We have the same approach,” Sergey Lavrov said Thursday. “We fight terrorists. The [US-led coalition] announced ISIS as the enemy, and the coalition does the same as Russia.”
But Col. Warren added, “We don’t believe” that [Russia] hit ISIS targets.
Human rights groups say Russian airstrikes in Syria targeted US-backed rebels on Thursday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims the targets of Russian airstrikes included …Read More