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Persian Letters

Head Of Iran’s Qods Force Suggests Assad Is Vulnerable

Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC's Qods Force, in Tehran in an undated photo
Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC's Qods Force, in Tehran in an undated photo
The head of Iran’s Qods Force, which has been accused by U.S. officials of providing military aid to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, doesn’t seem to believe the Syrian dictator can win.

In comments published by Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Major General Qasem Soleimani said that if the Syrian regime had a few commanders like the IRGC and Basij leaders who lost their lives in the Iran-Iraq War, it would be "insured" against "incursions."

Soleimani, who is believed to have had a significant role in Iran’s attempts to broaden its influence in the region, was reportedly speaking at a commemoration ceremony for the commanders of the 27th Mohammad Rasoul-Allah Division who lost their lives in the bloody eight-year conflict between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s.

Soleimani named some of the iconic "martyrs" of the war with Iraq and called them the "missing piece" in Syria. The Iranian commander also spoke at length about Iran’s war with Iraq, which Iran describes as the "Sacred Defense."

He said the war with Iraq reflected a "religious truth."

“If you look at mujahedins throughout the world, you will never find scenes similar to those of the Sacred Defense," Soleimani said. "Even though they act for God, and are engaged in jihad, [and] they fight against the U.S and Israel, but they have major differences with the source.”

Soleimani is on the list of IRGC officials who have been sanctioned by the United States over their alleged roles in a reported assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

Iran has denied the charges.

Soleimani, who generally keeps a low public profile, earlier this month personally visited the home of an IRGC commander killed in Syria to notify his family of his death.

Iranian media announced on February 13 that General Hassan Shateri, said to be in charge of Iran’s reconstruction operations in southern Lebanon after the war with Israel, was killed while traveling from Damascus to Beirut.

Iranian media blamed agents of "the Zionist regime" without offering details about the unexplained circumstances of Shateri’s death. The news that he was coming from Damascus raised new speculation about Iran’s role in Syria.

Iranian officials have dismissed Western reports that the Islamic republic is sending financial and military aid, including weapons, to the Syrian regime, its only ally in the region.

Last year, Deputy Qods Force Commander Ismail Ghaani confirmed the “effective” presence of Iranian forces in Syria, saying Iran was involved in Syria to prevent the killings of civilians.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying on February 28 that Western governments need to take a more realistic approach to the crisis in Syria.

“We all have to recognize the fact that there is a government in Syria that is not ready to step down, and nobody -- no external power or any other country in the region -- has the right to ask the government of Syria to step down," Salehi said.

He also called for the resolution of the conflict through dialogue between the government and the opposition.

On March 2, news agencies quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying that Tehran expects Assad to stay in as president until elections next year. Salehi's statement came at a joint news conference with his visiting Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Muallem, who was in Tehran for talks aimed at ending the nearly two-year-old conflict.

The UN says the death toll in Syria is some 70,000.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jack from: US
March 02, 2013 15:36
RFE/RL propaganda has been predicting imminent "collapse" of "brutal Assad regime" for 2 years already. Meanwhile US-sponsored Al Qaeda militants in Syria are being killed by thousands by Syrian people. US government is rightfully frustrated - their Wahhabi Sunni friends cannot win by themselves, just like in Libya, they need support by NATO minions
In Response

by: Jalmer Osmth from: USA
March 13, 2013 14:49
There are reasons to believe that 911was a conspiracy engineered by the Clintons', because the US government refused to pay for their plans to set up residency in the WTC executive suite at the Twin Towers., after Clinton left his tenure as US president.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 02, 2013 17:08
Golnaz is the one of the authors of this web-site able to make a "sensation" out of nothing: Hillary Clinton has spent two years promising "the final days" of Bashar and now her own last days as the US Secretary have come - and Bashar is in the very same place where he was two years ago, and he'll be sitting there 20 years from now. SHOULD he become vulnareble, Mahmud and Vladimir will give him a helping hand, don't worry. So, George W Obama, Bibi and the King of Saudi Arabia do not need to worry - their help will not be needed :-).
In Response

by: Firooz from: Glasgow
March 03, 2013 20:32
You hit the nail right on the head. She makes a mountain out of a molehill. Soleimani is praising Guards' commanders who were killed during the war with Iraq. He has not said anything about the vulnerability of the Assad regime.

by: Anonymous
March 02, 2013 21:16
"Soleimani is on the list of IRGC officials who have been sanctioned by the United States over their alleged roles in a reported assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador to Washington."

time has passed and so far no proof of (not even an allusive hint at) any assassination plot against a saudi ambassador.

by: Anonymous
March 03, 2013 19:33
Bad news for dictator Assad.

by: Jonathan from: Somewhere
March 04, 2013 14:15
Interesting story. Iran is already reaching out to the Syrian opposition with an eye to Post-Assad era.

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Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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