The regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria is expecting up to 15,000 Iranian troops to help maintain order in the country’s provinces, a Chinese newspaper reports. Iran has yet to confirm or deny the news.
According to the central Chinese daily Renmin Ribao, the Iranian special task troops are due to be deployed in Syria’s key provinces.
The Syrian opposition announced earlier that commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, advises the Syrian authorities on quashing the country’s opposition movement, the Telegraph newspaper reports.
According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the Quds Force includes 15,000 elite soldiers, who operated in Iraq and other wars on foreign soil. The Quds is reportedly in charge of training and funding Hezbollah.
The number of advisers and troops from the Quds in Syria could reach up to high hundreds or low thousands, the Telegraph reports. The newspaper said that they have set up at least one military base near the capital Damascus.
Official Tehran has neither confirmed nor refuted the news of its military participation in Syria. However, according to the head of the country’s state news agency Mehr, it is not in Iran’s plans to send any military contingent to the country.
“As far as I know there is not and will not be any program to dispatch Iranian military troops to Syria,” Reza Moghadasi told in his interview to Voice of Russia radio station.
Israeli website debka.com announced earlier that the UK and Qatari forces are involved with the conflict in Syria, directing tactics of the opposition forces in the bloody battle for Homs. According to the website, the presence of the foreign troops topped the agenda of talks Russia’s foreign intelligence chief Fradkov and Foreign Minister Lavrov held with Assad’s officials on Tuesday.
Syrian tanks and Assad’s troops reportedly massed outside Homs on Friday. A large offensive is expected to hit the city and its neighborhood in the nearest future.
Up to 110 people have reportedly been killed in Homs on Thursday. As of yet, it is impossible to verify the number of casualties.