A high-ranking but unnamed US State Department official has accused Iranian ground troops of being involved in the ongoing Syrian Civil War, saying that an “unknown number” are fighting alongside the Assad government.
Allegations of Iranian involvement are nothing new, but in the past centering around the known fact that Iranian military advisers are in Syria and unconfirmed reports of Iranians going to Syria for religious reasons to back the government against Sunni insurgents.
A significant ground deployment by the Iranian military would be an entirely different matter, and would underscore the increasingly regional nature of a war in which GCC-backed Islamist rebels are fighting an Alawite government backed by regional Shi’ite blocs.
The problem is that the State Department official announced this, but provided no evidence to back up the allegation, and there is no indication Iran has meaningful numbers of troops in Syria in the first place, let alone that they are playing a role in the fighting on the ground. So far, the only external faction confirmed to be fighting on the Assad government’s side has been Hezbollah.