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Forget the Syrian army, it’s all Iranian Basij now

107064_origA senior Sepah Pasdaran commander has made yet another embarrassing revelation about the extent of the Iranian regime’s military involvement in Syria. Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani, who oversees the operations of Sepah Pasdaran (The Iranian Revolutionary Guards) in Syria, claimed in a recent speech that Basij forces have been “established in 14 Syrian provinces.”

The Basij, officially known as the Organisation for Mobilisation of the Oppressed, is an Iranian paramilitary militia established by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 and is often used by the Iranian regime to terrorise and suppress dissident movements in Iran.

Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani is the former commander of the Greater Tehran unit in Sepah Pasdaran who led the 2009 crackdown on the Green Movement protesters in Tehran. Since the start of the Syrian revolution in March 2011, he is said to be in charge of leading the Iranian regime’s ‘advisory mission’ to Syria alongside the head of Sepah Qods Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

According to ISNA (Iran’s Student News Agency), Hamedani’s new revelation was made during a speech at a memorial service in the Hamedan province on 29 June 2014, which was reportedly attended by a number of Sepah Pasdaran commanders.[1]

In an attempt to explain where all these fighters came from, Hamedani claimed that 10,000 anti-Assad fighters had “switched sides” and are now Basij members.

In addition to these, he claimed there are also 100,000 trained Iranian Basij fighters “who would like to go and fight in Syria” but “Iran does not need to send military staff to Syria yet” – which is not true, of course.

And it is not just in Syria that the Iranian regime is setting up and training loyal paramilitary forces. “After Lebanon and Syria, a Basij force is now being formed in Iraq,” Hamdani said. “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s third child is born,” he added.

In May 2014, Hamedani made a similarly revealing and embarrassing remark when he said Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is “fighting this war [in Syria] as our deputy,” implying that the Iranian regime is the one who is in charge. He also threatened to send more Iranian fighters to Syria, saying 130,000 trained Basij fighters were “ready to be deployed” there if the war escalated further.

The unprecedented comments were reported by Iranian state-controlled news agency Fars News on 4 May 2014, but the report was quickly removed from the agency’s website. However, it did stay online long enough for other media outlets, including Naame Shaam, to reproduce it and take screen shots of it.[2]

Back in September 2012, Hamedani had acknowledged that members of Sepah Quds were in Syria to “assist and train” Bashar al-Assad’s regime.[3] In April 2014, another prominent Iranian general admitted that Sepah Pasdaran played an important role in setting up a Syrian paramilitary militia known as the National Defence Forces, which was modelled on the Iranian Basij.


Editor’s comment:

The war in Syria is now essentially an Iranian regime war – not a proxy one but in the most direct sense of the word. The Syrian rebels are mainly fighting the Iranian regime, represented by Sepah Pasdaran and Basij and their foot soldiers, Hezbollah Lebanon and the Iraqi militias.

Syria (or the areas under regime control) is effectively a country occupied by Sepah Pasdaran. Bashar al-Assad is a just puppet who is no longer in charge, and his regime is just a facade. His real masters are the head of Sepah Pasdaran’s operations in Syria Hossein Hamedani and the head of Sepah Qods Qassim Soleimani. Both are the de facto military rulers of Syria. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has the final say in all important matters in Syria, just like in Iran.

Our readers may remember what Gen. Qassem Soleimani promised in his (mock) Syria election programme in June 2014:

“I will dismantle the Syrian army and replace it with a much better organised and fully loyal force, the Syrian Sepah Pasdaran. The Syrian army cannot be trusted with major battles, as we’ve seen since the start of the troubles in Syria in March 2011.

“We have already established in Syria the ‘National Defence Forces’, modeled on the Iranian Basij, and they have done a great job. A Syrian Sepah Pasdaran will be a culmination of these efforts to guarantee security for all Syrians.

“Like in Iran, Syria’s Sepah Pasdaran will have the final say. Power should be in the hands of strong military generals who know how to rule, not weak civilian presidents and ministers.”[5]

Judging by Hamedani’s recent remarks, it seems Soleimani’s dreams in Syria are coming true.










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