A number of reports indicate that the death toll faced by Iranian proxies and Iranian-backed soldiers in Syria are facing increased casualty rates.
Saturday, seven Iran-backed Hezbollah fighters were killed near Aleppo, which has been under siege by forces supporting Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. The fighting has ramped up since September, when government forces redoubled their efforts to take back rebel-held districts in the eastern portion of the city.
Iranian military commander Yahya Rahim Safavi, who is an advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has said that the Lebanese Hezbollah organization has lost thousands of fighters in Syria.
Hezbollah and the Assad regime are both part of an Iran-led coalition known as the Axis of Resistance, and receive funding and training from Iran.
Iran also sends its soldiers, both from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and from its general male population to go and fight in regional conflicts. They often send poor immigrants from Afghanistan and elsewhere to undertake dangerous operations with little equipment. This is done without openly declaring war or even admitting Iran’s participation in the conflicts.
“Hezbollah has been involved in Syria and its forces have got into trouble”, said ex-Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
“Currently, the situation in the region is too bad and we are spending on it.”
Last week, General Gholam Reza Samai, a senior commander in the IRGC, died while fighting in Syria. Additionally, Mr. Safavi said that Hossein Hamadani, another IRGC commander who was killed in an alleged Islamic State attack in Aleppo in October, 2015, set up an Assad regime-affiliated militia in Syria that has swelled to 20,000 men.
During a meeting with the families of IRGC commanders who have died in Syria, Supreme Leader Khameneisaid that Iran’s government is “particularly proud of those killed defending the holy places in Syria.”
“Some people say let’s go negotiate with this same United States on issues like Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and even the country’s internal issues so as to reach a compromise”, said Khamenei during a meeting on Wednesday, November 2.
“But our negotiations with the United States is not going to solve our problems. In fact, it not only won’t solve our problems but it will increase them”.
About 1200 Iran-deployed fighters have died in the Syrian conflict since 2011, with about 300 of these deaths occurring in the last several months.
Iran’s support for armed rebels in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen has increasingly drawn the ire of those who wish to see a resolution to the seemingly intractable conflicts which have plagued the Middle East in recent years.
Last week, Iran’s former Deputy to the Ministry of the Interior acknowledged that defending holy sites is an excuse for Iran’s mission in the conflicts it has become involved in.