It has recently been reported that estimates show thousands of fighters and more than 10 generals have been lost by Iran, while they have engaged in the Syria-Iraq wars. The report analyzed many different estimates of Iranian losses that have been recently announced.
Mohammad Ali Shahidi, Director of the Martyrs Foundation, an Iranian governmental entity that receives its funding directly from the national budget, announced at a conference on martyrdom in Iranian culture on March 6, that estimated Iranian losses in the Syria-Iraq wars were at 2,100. However, Shahidi announced a loss of only around 1,000 Iranian fighters as recently as November.
A researcher, Ali Alfoneh, of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, recently put the number of Iranian losses at 2,603. The 2,603 losses were broken down as 511 actual Iranians, 1,045 Hezbollah fighters and 1,047 Afghan, Pakistani and other Shi’ite militia fighters, which were all under Iranian command. More than 10 Iranians of a rank equivalent to a Brigadier General are said to have been among those killed.
High losses, especially of so many senior officers, according to the report, is the reason Iran’s military presence in Syria and Iraq has fallen from thousands to hundreds. Other speculations are that Tehran has only now confirmed the numbers publicly because the wars are winding down and there won’t be significant additional Iranian losses. Still other, contrary reports, by regime opposition groups, claim that Iran’s losses are far higher, but are being covered up.
The broader implication though, is that Tehran is becoming a secondary player for the Assad regime, with Russia providing the primary military backup and direction.