No previous official statistics have been published by Iran regarding the material and human cost of its intervention. However, on Tuesday, within events held on the occasion of Iran’s National Tree Planting Day, it was announced that 2,100 trees were planted by the mothers of Iranian militants killed in Syria and Iraq — equal to the number of those killed in those battles.
Photos of the tree planting beside Khomeini’s shrine, and in the presence of Tehran municipality board members were circulated.
Mohammad Ali Shahidi, the head of Iran’s Martyr Foundation, announced similar data one year ago, but the results weren’t confirmed by official authorities at that time.
On Monday, on the sidelines of his meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drianon, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani described the Iran’s presence in these battles as costly. Le Drian had promised tough talk on Iran’s ballistic missile program during his visit, but met with stiff resistance from his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, who said Western arms deals had turned the Middle East into a “gunpowder depot.”
Leading the pro-Iran multinational militias is the Quds Force, who have been in Syria for the past seven years, as well as in Iraq. Still, Iran claims that its presence followed an official request by Baghdad and Damascus, and is consultative in nature.
The soldiers who were killed in Syria are called “Shrine Defenders” by Iranian authorities, which seems to confirm the ideological motives that push them to fight there.
Vice president of intelligence in IRGC, Humaid Mohebi, revealed that support of Bashar Assad caused internal disputes among Iranian officials initially. He added that former Iranian President Ahmadinejad objected to Iran’s support of Assad, and quoted Ahmadinejad as saying that “no costs should be paid in Syria because Assad ruling is over.”
During the recent turn of the year uprising in Iran that began in the holy city of Mashhad and quickly spread across the country, the Iranian people shouted slogans against the intervention in Syria, Iraq, and Palestine, calling it meddling and warmongering. They also protested their government’s corruption, and called for regime change as the only solution to the country’s problems.