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Iranian Basij Official Says 50 Student Volunteers Killed Fighting In Syria


Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaks during a meeting with members of the Basij force in Tehran on November 22.

The press agency for Iran's hard-line conservative volunteer militia, the Basij, has quoted a senior official as saying that 50 Iranian student volunteers have been killed while fighting in Syria.

Basij Press quoted Daud Gudrazi -- the head of the Student Basij Organization, a branch of the militia force -- as saying on December 6 that 50 students had been "martyred" since November.

Gudrazi used the phrase "defenders of the shrine," which is used to describe Iranian and other Shi'ite forces trained and deployed in Syria by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Basij force.

Gudrazi added that there was "high volume" of volunteers ready to fight in Syria.

Iran, which has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war, has claimed it sends military advisers and volunteers to help government forces, but denies sending its own troops.

Even so, Iranian media have reported the death of dozens of Iranian "volunteers" in Syria in the past several years.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Farda and Basij press

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