Det iranske regimet har sendt hundrevis av Revolusjonsgardister til Assad. De instruerer, driver etterretning og leder operasjoner. Samtidig har Russland levert droner og ammunisjon.
Den økte støtten skal være noe av forklaringen på at Assad hadde så lite å gi ved forhandlingene i Geneve.
Samtidig er den økte støtten vond å svelge for Barack Obama. Obama forhandler om atomprogrammet på basis av tillit. Hvordan kan Obama stole på Iran i atomspørsmålet, når Iran heller bensin på bålet i Syria?
Samme gjelder Putin. Hvordan kan Obama stole på hans løfter når det gjelder overlevering og destruksjon av Assads kjemiske våpen, når Putin øker våpenleveransene?
Den samme mistillit gjelder for såvidt også Ukraina. Går det an å gjøre «forretninger» med Putin?
Assad is now benefiting from the deployment by Tehran of hundreds more military specialists to Syria, according to Iranian sources familiar with deployments of military personnel, Syrian opposition sources, and security experts.
These include senior commanders from the elite Quds Force, the external and secretive arm of the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as IRGC members.
Their function is not to fight, but to direct and train Syrian forces and to assist in the gathering of intelligence, according to sources in Iran and outside.
An Iranian foreign ministry official said: «We always have said that we support our Syrian brothers and respect their will … Iran has never got involved in Syria by providing arms or financially or by sending troops.»
But a former senior Iranian official with close IRGC links said Iranian forces were active in Syria.
He said the Quds force was gathering intelligence in Syria, which Iran regarded as a top priority. He said a few hundred commanders from the Quds Force and the IRGC were in Syria, but they did not get involved directly in the fighting.
A recently retired senior IRGC commander said Iranian forces on the ground included some Arabic speakers. He said top Quds force commanders numbered 60 to 70 at any given time.
These men were tasked with advising and training Assad’s military and his commanders, he said. Revolutionary Guards directed the fighting on the instructions of the Quds Force commanders, he added.
The former IRGC commander said these personnel were also backed up by thousands of Iranian paramilitary Basij volunteer fighters as well as Arabic speakers including Shi’ites from Iraq. The former Iranian official and a Syrian opposition source also put auxiliary forces in the thousands.
The figures could not be independently verified from Syria, but the deaths of at least two IRGC commanders in Syria have been publicly reported.
European and U.S. security officials said hundreds of Iranians were active in Syria advising, training and in some cases commanding Syrian government forces.
«Iran’s presence in Syria has been and remains a concern given the resources Tehran has at its disposal and its unwavering support for the Assad regime,» a U.S. official said.
Iranian and Syrian opposition sources said personnel could enter Syria through the border with Turkey since Iranians did not need visas to enter Turkey. Others come in across the Iraqi border and more senior commanders fly in to Damascus.
A Turkish official said the number of Iranians crossing into Syria had increased in the last few months. Most had non-Iranian passports.
A Syrian opposition source said in recent months Iranian- led forces had begun operating in coastal areas including Tartous and Latakia. They have local ID cards, wear Syrian military fatigues and work with the elite Syrian air force intelligence unit.
In recent weeks Syria has continued to receive arms and military equipment from Russia and via proxies, according to several sources. Those supplies included unmanned spy drones, guided bombs and spare parts for combat craft.
Moscow says it violates no international laws with its military supplies to Syria, which do not include offensive weapons.
Nic Jenzen-Jones, a military arms specialist and director of Armament Research Services, said Iranian-made Falaq-1 and Falaq-2 rocket launchers had been sent from Iran to Syria.
«While they have been around for a while, we have seen an increase in use of late,» he said
Jenzen-Jones added that relatively new Iranian small arms ammunition – produced in the last three to four years – had reached Syria recently.
A rebel fighter operating in Homs province with Islamist group Liwa al-Haq said opposition forces knew of Iranian planes flying into Hama airport in central Syria to deliver weapons.