Deployment of the regime’s army in Syria
The latest deployments constitute the only large-scale foreign deployment of Iranian army since the Iran-Iraq War.. Amir Ali Arasteh, deputy coordinator of the army’s ground forces, stated that forces from the 65th Commando Brigade have been dispatched to Syria and that other army units will join them as well. The 65th Commando Brigade, also known as Nohed, played a major role in suppressing dissent and enforcing the mullahs’ rule during and immediately after the 1978-79 Islamic Revolution.
IRGC headquarters in Damascus is located in a place dubbed Glass Headquarters near the Damascus Airport. IRGC Brigadier General Razi Moussavi is stationed there and is in charge of logistics for the IRGC’s foreign expeditionary Qods Force.
The IRGC has taken over Sheibani, a large base situated between Damascus and Zabdani that formerly housed Assad’s Republican Guard. It has since been renamed Imam Hussein Base. Several thousand forces from the 19th Fajr Commando Brigade of Iran’s Fars Corps, as well as battalions from the Fatemiyoun and Lebanese Hezbollah have been deployed to this base. They current act as a reserve force protecting Assad’s palace.
Preparations for assaults around Aleppo
In recent days, the IRGC has begun to bolster its forces around Aleppo, and battalions of IRGC, Afghan Fatemiyoun, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Syrian militias have been massing in this region in apparent preparation for an assault against the Syrian opposition and FSA.
In March, two independent brigades of the Fars Corps were deployed to Syria. IRGC Colonel Mohsen Mandani, one of the commanders of this force, was killed on March 20 in Khaan Tuman region in southern Aleppo. His replacement, IRGC Brigadier General Mohsen Ellahi, was also killed in the same area a few days later, along with other Revolutionary Guards.
Additionally, forces in Syria from the Nabi Akram Division of Kermanshah Province have doubled, reaching 1000.
The IRGC has set up one of its headquarters in the town of Marea near the city of Nubl, and IRGC Commander Seyyed Rasool is stationed there.
IRGC mercenary militias amassing
By order of the Qods Force, Iraqi paramilitary forces such as Al-Nujaba, the Badr Organization, Saraya Khorasani, Asaib Ahl-al-Haq, Kataeb and Hezbollah have dispatched further forces to Syria. These mercenaries go from Iraq to Abadan, in Iran, from where they are flown to Syria in several daily flights by Mahan Airlines.
Qods Force offices in Tehran, as well as its offices in Iran’s eastern regions, employ enticement or coercion to compel Afghans residing in Iran to register to go to Syria. Toward this end, the IRGC exploits the extreme poverty of Afghan nationals and their need to obtain legal documents. In many cases Afghan prisoners including some who are facing death sentences are pardoned if they volunteer to fight in Syria.
Persons wounded in fighting in Syria are sent to Iran for medical treatment. They include not only IRGC members but also Syrian militants every week, around 30 wounded Syrians are flown directly to Rajai Hospital in Shiraz. The IRGC has dedicated Najafi Hosseiniyeh in Shiraz to the wounded Syrians and their families.