Report: Iran boosting Syria military aid amid escalating crackdown
U.S. officials speaking to the Washington Post say intelligence reports indicate Iranian aid 'increasingly focused on lethal assistance.'
Iran is increasing the flow of military and intelligence aid to the Syrian army, as the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad attempts to brutally stamp out pockets of resistance across the country, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.
The report came after only a few weeks ago Iranian broadcaster Press TV reported that two Iranian warships docked at a Syrian port.
The vessels - a destroyer and a supply ship - are to provide maritime training to Syria's navy under an agreement between the two countries, according to the report.
A few weeks prior, Syrian sources indicated the extent of the Iranian aid to Assad's regime, with a top member of the National Syrian Council saying that a top Iranian military official was actively aiding Syria's suppressing of popular unrest throughout the country.
According to the Syrian official, Kassam Salimani, commander of the Quds Force, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard special forces unit, has arrived in Syria recently and has taken up a spot in the war room which manages army maneuvers against opposition forces.
On Sunday, however, the Washington Post cited U.S. officials as claiming that Iran was increasing its support of Assad's crackdown, amid recent reports of civilian killings in rebel strongholds such as Homs.
"The aid from Iran is increasing, and is increasingly focused on lethal assistance," one of the officials speaking with the Post said, citing intelligence reports as well as a recent incident involving the wounding of an Iranian operative working with Syrian forces.
According to the report, intelligence accounts concerning alleged Iranian involvement in the Syria crisis are accompanied with by rumors in recent months of what the Washington Post called "black-bearded men speaking a foreign language and assumed to be Iranian have circulated widely inside Syria for many months."