“Some of our commanders are in the field to give military advice to the Iraqi army, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance movement,” Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Gholam Ali Rashid told the semi-official Iranian news outlet Fars.
it was unclear whether Rashid meant that military personnel were in the Palestinian territories. Hamas’s political bureau is based in Qatar, and its fighters have been known to train in other countries.
In August, Iranian Basij militia chief Mohammad Reza Naqdi said Tehran was stepping up efforts to arm West Bank Palestinians for battle against Israel. It was one of several warnings after an Israeli drone was reportedly shot down over Iran.
While Iran has provided Hamas with weapons and technology to build rockets, there have been no reports of Iranian soldiers among armed fighters in the Gaza Strip or West Bank.
If Iranian army officials are in the field in Iraq, this would be the first official confirmation. While the Times of London reported in June that Tehran had sent a team of 150 elite Revolutionary Guard troops to aide Iraq’s faltering government against the onslaught of the Islamic State jihadist group, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham rejected reports last month of an Iranian military presence.
Iran has reportedly been in discussions with the US to join a coalition to aid Iraq against IS, but has publicly refused to take part unless its involvement is tied to easing sanctions placed on Tehran by the West over its nuclear program. The US has said the issues must remain separate.
Hezbollah is considering an Iranian proxy organization, but it is unclear whether Rashid also meant to confirm that military officials are also advising Hezbollah fighters on the ground in Lebanon or Syria, where they have been helping regime forces battle against both jihadist and moderate opposition forces.
Iran has officially denied having a military presence in Syria, but there have been numerous reports of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders being killed in Syria over the past year.
As recently as May, a Syrian activist said he had positively identified a man whose decapitated head had appeared in a photo as IRGC Col. Mohammad Eskandari. The Iranian news agency ABNA also reported that Eskandari died in Syrian fighting, according to news and analysis website EA Worldview.
Eskandari had previously been quoted telling Iranian media that 42 divisions and 138 battalions of the elite IRGC were fighting in Syria, to bolster forces loyal to Assad.
In November, Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency reported that IRGC commander Mohammad Jamalhad been killed by “terrorists,” which is the term used by Iran and the Syrian regime for opposition forces.
Iran is one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s main allies. Tehran has provided his government with military and political backing for years and has kept up its support since the uprising there began in March 2011.
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