Iran Directing Assad's War in Syria

(New Yorker) Dexter Filkins - Maj.-Gen. Qassem Suleimani, 56, took command of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force 15 years ago, and in that time he has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran's favor: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and, for most of a decade, directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq. "Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today," John Maguire, a former CIA officer in Iraq, told me. Suleimani began flying into Damascus frequently so that he could assume personal control of the Iranian intervention. "He's running the war himself," an American defense official told me. In Damascus, he is said to work out of a heavily fortified command post in a nondescript building, where he has installed a multinational array of officers: the heads of the Syrian military, a Hizbullah commander, and a coordinator of Iraqi Shiite militias, which Suleimani mobilized and brought to the fight. Late last year, Western officials began to notice a sharp increase in Iranian supply flights into Damascus airport. Instead of a handful a week, planes were coming every day, carrying weapons and ammunition along with officers from the Quds Force. A Middle Eastern security official said that the number of Quds Force operatives, along with the Iraqi Shiite militiamen they brought with them, reached into the thousands.

2013-09-24 00:00:00

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