The top commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard said members of his forces are in Syria as “advisers.”
General Mohammad Ali Jafari said it was an “honor” to “provide the Syrian government with any kind of consultation to defend Syria which is in the resistance circle,” al-Jazeera television reported yesterday.
International efforts to end the 18-month conflict in Syria have failed to stop the violence, which the opposition U.K.- based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims has killed more than 26,000 people.
Jafari said his forces are in Lebanon as well. Divisions between the majority Sunni Muslims and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite leadership have spilled across Syria’s borders, with clashes between Sunnis and Alawites in Lebanon during the past few months.
Assad and most top Syrian officials come from the Alawite sect, affiliated with Shiite Islam, while the majority of Syria’s population and many leaders of the armed uprising are Sunni.
The U.S. has imposed financial sanctions against leaders of the Lebanon-based Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah for providing support to Assad. The group is a major militia force and political party in Lebanon and is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S.
Conflict Getting Worse
United Nations special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said the Syrian conflict is “getting worse” as government forces and rebels battled across the country.
The crisis “has serious consequences on the Syrian people, the region and the entire world,” Brahimi, who spoke at a televised news conference, said following a meeting with Assad in Damascus Sept. 15.
Brahimi, who succeeded Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general who ended his mission last month without making any progress on resolving the crisis, told reporters he had “no plan” now to solve the conflict.
“We, however, will set the plan that we will follow after listening to all internal, regional and international parties,” he said in an e-mailed statement. This may “manage to open channels towards ending the crisis.”
The head of the rebels’ military council in Aleppo and its suburbs, Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Ageidi, said that Brahimi’s mission would fail. He spoke yesterday to al-Arabiya television after meeting with Brahimi, the UN envoy to Syria and other rebel leaders via Skype.
No Solutions Offered
“Mr. Brahimi wanted to learn about the situation on the ground but he didn’t have any solutions to offer,” al-Ageidi said. Al-Ageidi also said the international community is supporting the Syrian regime under the table while condemning it to the media.
As Brahimi held talks with the government, representatives of the opposition and civil society, fighting raged across the country. Syrian government forces killed 155 people across the country, including 49 in Aleppo and 59 in and around the capital Damascus, the opposition Local Coordination Committees said in an e-mailed statement.
Nine government personnel died in the fighting, the opposition Syrian Observatory said in an e-mailed statement. In Aleppo, the country’s largest city, Assad’s forces used attack helicopters against rebel-held neighborhoods and a large number of regime forces tried to storm the Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood in the capital, the group said on its Facebook page. Clashes also took place in other cities, including Homs and Hama, it said.