According to reports from inside the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), following the large number of IRGC casualties in Syria, especially the death of General Hossein Hamadani, commander of the Iranian regime’s forces in Syria, and injury to Commander of the IRGC Quds Force (QF) Qassem Soleimani, Khamenei who considers defeat in the war against Syrian people a lethal blow to the entirety of the velayat-e faqih regime is getting the Iranian regime and its Revolutionary Guards exceedingly bogged down in the Syrian quagmire.
1. Following the death of IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani, IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Jafar Assadi, one of the most veteran commanders in the IRGC and a close associate of Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, Commander in Chief of the IRGC, was appointed by Khamenei as IRGC commander in Syria. Assadi has many years of experience in export of terrorism and meddling in the affairs of countries in the region. In Syria, he is known as Abu Ahmad.
2. Mohammad Jafar Assadi who is close to the IRGC Commander in Chief, joined the IRGC in March 1980 and was one of the commanders of the anti-patriotic war with Iraq. He was commander of the IRGC in Lebanon from 2003 to 2007 and then commander of the IRGC Ground Forces from 2008 to 2009. In October 2015 he was appointed commander of Imam Hossein Base that is responsible for organizing ‘Imam Hossein’ battalions that are tasked with domestic suppression. But very shortly afterwards he was transferred to Syria and IRGC Brigadier General Gholamhossein Gheibparvar replaced him as the commander of Imam Hossein Base.
3. Since a while ago that signs of the regime’s failure in Syria became evident, Khamenei and IRGC commanders reached the conclusion that QF alone cannot control the situation and the IRGC as a whole needs to enter into the war although the control of the situation politically and the extent of the regime’s intervention in Syria, as well as command of the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi mercenaries, remained with the QF.
4. IRGC Ground Forces assumed the task of dispatching forces from various provinces of the country to Syria and the IRGC operational command in Syria was placed under the supervision of IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, Commander of the IRGC Ground Forces. At the IRGC Headquarters in Tehran, IRGC Brigadier General Vali Ma’adani, IRGC Ground Forces’ Deputy Commander of Operations, oversees the operations in Syria.
5. Prior to the Russian air assaults, the Iranian regime and Qassem Soleimani himself had promised that if the Russian operation initiates, IRGC would quickly retake the regions that Bashar Assad had lost in Aleppo and Homs. On October 5, 2015, a few days after the initiation of Russian aerial bombardment, Qassem Soleimani and Hossein Hamedani met with Khamenei and got his approval for ‘Moharram’ operational plan. According to the plan, the regime’s forces were to take back Aleppo from the opposition forces by October 24, 2015. However, on October 8, Hossein Hamedani was killed. Subsequently, Qassem Soleimani got stationed in Syria and assumed command of the Moharram Operation, but as he too was wounded the plan turned to a fiasco.
6. Following successive blows to the IRGC in southern Aleppo in October and November, a number of IRGC commanders wanted to retreat from Aleppo to other sections in Syria to avert further casualties. However, Khamenei told IRGC commanders in a meeting that Aleppo is vital to the regime and thus they are not allowed to retreat from there, but they should change their methods and tactics. For this purpose, the regime shuffled some forces in southern Aleppo, but no forces have been removed from Syria and the IRGC has no such plan.
7. QF continues to dispatch mercenaries to Syria. On September 16, some 400 of Iraqi Nojaba Group and later on December 25, another 800 were taken to Tehran to be airlifted from there to Damascus. Likewise, last week, 300 from the Fatemiyoun Group, that includes Afghans residing in Iran, were dispatched to Damascus from Tehran.
8. Considering the blows and defeats of the past three months, the IRGC has arrived at the conclusion that it needs to change some of its tactics. Instead of handing over the areas that it occupies to the Assad army, the IRGC is handing them over to the forces affiliated with it such as the Syrian Jaish al-Vatani or Hezbollah because the Assad army quickly loses the areas back to the Syrian opposition forces resulting in high casualties to the IRGC and Bashar Assad’s forces.