Den iranske revolusjonsgarden har allerede overtatt mye av styringen med Assads styrker, ifølge Michael Weiss og Elizbeth O’Bagy i the Atlantic. Det rekrutteres menn i en rekke land – Irak, Libanon og Gulfen.

De flys til Iran for opplæring før de settes inn i kampen.

Hele prosjektet er sagt å omfatte 100.000 mann.

For første gang er Revolusjonsgardens bakkestyrker satt inn, ikke bare spesialstyrken Al Quds.

According to Reuters, «tons» of military equipment is being flown into Syria daily from Iran, through Iraqi airspace, despite repeated State Department demarches to Baghdad. Last year, a Syrian Air Ilyushin-76 plane flew made numerous flights from around Moscow to Tehran to Damascus, delivering hardware to Assad including refurbished Mi-25 Russian attack helicopters. The Kremlin has also been printing and flying in large consignments of Syrian banknotes to help keep the regime’s faltering economy afloat during the crisis.

Remarkably, Iran is not only dispatching «advisors» from its elite Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) to Syria but also its Ground Force personnel, which are rarely deployed abroad, to oversee the creation and training of a consortium of pro-Assad sectarian militia groups made up of Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese and even Gulf Arabs, some of whom are first flown to Tehran for training, then flown back into Syria. The project as a whole, which envisages well over 100,000 guerrilla loyalists of Damascus, is said to be named for IRGC-QF Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, the person in charge of its on-the-ground implementation. These militias consist of both Syrian and foreign militants, and they stand to inherit the bulk of the Syrian Army’s battlefield responsibilities. One of them, the National Defense Force, played a lead role alongside Hezbollah in pushing the rebels out of the strategically vital city of Qusayr last week.

Rebel commanders have told us that Iranian militia groups are currently operating in parts of Aleppo in Shia-predominant communities south or southeast of the town of al-Safir, where one of Assad’s chemical weapons facilities is located. This is unique in that it is not Iraqi or Lebanese militia groups sponsored by Iran, but actual Iranian militia groups intent on securing the regime’s WMD stockpiles. Of particular interest — and concern — is that the IRGC-GF personnel deployed to Syria tend to hail from provincial units that face tribal and ethnic unrest in Iran, such as West Azerbaijan and Fars, further indicating that Tehran now intends to fashion the regime’s counterinsurgency strategy along strictly sectarian lines.

Det er kjent at sunni-siden også rekrutterer frivillige fra hele den muslimske verden.

Syria blir dermed hva Afghanistan var på 80-tallet: med den forskjell at det denne gang ikke er et oppgjør mellom mujahedin og et sekulært, gudløst Sovjet, men et oppgjør innen islam.

Ressursene man kan trekke på er mye større denne gang, og scenen er ikke fjerne Afghanistan, men midt i hjertet av den arabiske verden. Man slåss for livet på islams historiske steder. Bare vissheten om det burde gi noen perspektiver.