Iranian regime ramps up IRGC forces and army in Syria in preparation for operations in Aleppo
A group of IRGC forces deployed in Sheibani Base to protect Bashar Assad’s palace
According to reports obtained from inside the Iranian regime, Khamenei has dispatched hordes of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and mercenary militias, as well as groups of the regime’s army to Syria to launch new attacks against the opposition and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), especially in Aleppo province. Khamenei is extremely fearful that following the relative cessation of hostilities pursuant to an agreement between the United States and Russia and a halt or significant decline of bombings in areas under the opposition control, the situation would return to prior to September 2015 where Assad’s army and the IRGC were fleeing FSA forces.
Deployment of the regime’s army in Syria
1. In a move unparalleled since the Iran-Iraq war, Khamenei has deployed his military on a large scale for export of terrorism and warmongering abroad. 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 other army units will join them as well (IRGC Qods Force’s Tasnim News Agency – April 4, 2016). The 65th Commando Brigade, aka Nohed, is extremely loathed by the Iranian people for suppressing Iranian people in the 1978-79 uprising and during the rule of the mullahs’ regime.
2. IRGC headquarters in Damascus is located in a place dubbed Glass Headquarters near Damascus Airport. IRGC Brigadier General Razi Moussavi who is in charge of Qods Force logistics in Syria is stationed there.
3. The IRGC has taken over Sheibani, a large base situated between Damascus and Zabdani that formerly housed Assad’s Republican Guard, from Assad’s army and renamed it Imam Hussein Base. Several thousand forces from the 19th Fajr Commando Brigade from Iran’s Fars Corps, as well as battalions from the Fatemiyoun and Lebanese Hezbollah have been deployed at this base. They are also considered the reserve force that protects Assad’s palace.
Preparations for assaults around Aleppo
4. In recent days, the IRGC has begun to ramp up its forces around Aleppo, and battalions of IRGC, Afghan Fatemiyoun, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Syrian militias have been amassing in this region in preparation to launch their assault against the Syrian opposition and FSA.
To this end, a few weeks ago, two independent brigades of the Fars Corps have been deployed in 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, along with other Revolutionary Guards, was also killed in the same area a few days later.
Additionally, forces in Syria from the Nabi Akram Division of Kermanshah Province have doubled, reaching 1000.
5. In this regard, 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
6. By orders 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.
7. 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. IRGC abuses the extreme poverty of Afghan nationals and their need to attain legal documents to have them go to Syria. In many cases Afghan prisoners or those with death sentences are pardoned if they volunteer to fight in Syria.
8. In addition to IRGC casualties in Syria, wounded Syrian militants are also sent to Iran for medical treatment. For example, every week, around 30 wounded Syrians are transferred to Rajai Hospital in Shiraz with direct flights. The IRGC has dedicated Najafi Hosseiniyeh in Shiraz to the wounded Syrians and their families.