Iranian Casualties in Syria

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Ali Alfoneh and Michael Eisenstadt - By summer 2015, Iran reportedly had 700 "advisors" in Syria (primarily from the Qods Force and IRGC ground forces). In early September - coinciding with Russia's military intervention in Syria - Iran reportedly launched a "surge," sending in 2,300-2,500 IRGC troops. These surge forces began redeploying to Iran in November, and nearly all returned home by February. Yet 160 Iranians were reportedly killed and 300 wounded during this brief deployment. Losses continue to mount among the 700 Iranian Qods Force and IRGC personnel who remain in Syria. Iran has admitted to losing more than 340 IRGC personnel in Syria overall. Earlier this month, Iran announced that members of its regular ground forces were now serving as advisors in Syria. Iran has never committed more than the minimum force necessary to keep Bashar al-Assad in power, so one cannot say that it has been militarily "all in" in Syria. Whenever possible, Iran will limit its own exposure and losses by fighting to its last non-Iranian proxy (Hizbullah and Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani Shiites), even when its own personnel would be more effective. Ali Alfoneh is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Michael Eisenstadt is director of The Washington Institute's Military and Security Studies Program.

2016-03-15 00:00:00

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