Al-Qaeda Led Rebels Capture Iranian Troops in Syria

Number of Troops Held by Islamists Still Unclear

Adding to the losses sustained by pro-Assad forces in al-Qaeda’s bloody capture of the village of Khan Touman on Friday, Top Iranian MP Esmail Kosari confirmed that a number of Iranian soldiers were captured by the al-Qaeda-led Islamists during the fighting.

Scores of fighters were killed on both sides, with at least 13 Iranian troops among the slain. Exactly how many were captured is unclear, with Kosari reporting “five or six” while the Islamists have only claimed to have two.

Adding to the confusion, Kosari referred to the troops as “defenders of the shrine,” suggesting they’d been deployed to protect a key Shi’ite shrine near Damascus. The fighting in question was far north of this shrine, however.

Though some Syrian troops were involved in the fighting, the village appeared to be defended largely by Shi’ite militias, with the Iranian troops described as “advisers” and apparently deployed to keep the militias on the same page.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.