A top Iranian military official is activily aiding the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in suppressing popular unrest throughout the country, a top member of the National Syrian Council said on Monday.

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.

The war room is also reportedly populated by Assad himself, as well as his brother Maher, brother-in-law Assaf Shaukat and cousin Rami Makhlouf, with the Syrian chief of staff's authority reportedly restricted and divided up between other military commanders.

The Quds Force includes 15,000 elite soldiers who operated, among other locations, in Iraq during the war, and the specialty of which is engaging in unconventional warfare on foreign soil. Among other duties, the Quds Force is in charge of traning and funding Hezbollah.

Salimani's presence in Syria serves as an indication of the kind of battle that Assad is planning against opposition forces, with the Syrian army reportedly planning to wage all out war against the rebel city of Homs.

According to the report, the Syrian president's goal is to gain ground ahead of a planned visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who will be arriving in the country along with a military delegation which includes the head of Russian intelligence.

Assad's aim, sources say, is to display his control of the situation and his ability to suppress the unrest, with the determining battles to be staged in Homs and in the reoccupation of the town of Zabadani, which fell to Free Syria Army forces.

An Al-Arabiya report indicated that the battle over Zabadani has already begun, with Syrian soldiers defecting to the opposition along with eight tanks, and that Homs has been placed under a siege which has included the cutting of electricity and water supplies.

The report also claimed that the Syrian army for the first time has been using rockets in order to target houses as well as mortars to hit populated areas. So far, 60 people were reportedly killed and hundreds wounded in this battle, as well as reports of the demolition of seven houses, residents and all.

Syrian opposition organizations that are active internationally are currently trying to gain a political front bypassing the UN Security Council, where a resolution underwritten by the Arab League failed due to Russian and Chinese vetoes on Saturday.

At this stage, opposition leaders are trying to find a way forward, as it is clear that Turkey and the Arab states oppose military action against the Assad regime, and the imposing of economic sanctions will not stop Assad.

Facing Russia and Chinese opposition, and the Iranian threat to open a new front, there is doubt whether a western coalition will agree to act directly against Syria. The question is whether the Free Syrian Army will be able to get additional military assistance, and to arm itself with heavy artillery, tanks and shells so that it will be able to pose a real challenge to the Syrian army, and change the civilian resistance into a real military struggle, much like the rebel forces in Libya.

Along with the Syria Free Army’s attempts to increase the number of defectors from the Syrian military, the opposition is also considering offering the minority Alawite elite guarantees of their safety in exchange for ordering Alawites to leave the regime and join the civilian resistance.

Along with the Syria Free Army’s attempts to increase the number of defectors from the Syrian military, the opposition is also considering offering the minority Alawite elite guarantees of their safety in exchange for ordering Alawites to leave the regime and join the civilian resistance.

Parallel to these efforts, however, the opposition seems to be facing a new and violent civilian group that is comprised mainly of Syria’s Kurdish minority. This group is working as strongmen for the regime, both in Damascus and in Kurdish population centers.