Iran Fighting in Syria to the Last Shia Proxy

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Michael Eisenstadt - Iran has never committed more than the minimum force needed to keep Syrian President Assad in power. It had 700 men in Syria prior to its brief surge in late 2015 - which raised force levels to about 3,000 - most of whom it withdrew shortly thereafter, having experienced a spike in losses. The number is now 1,500. Iran has tried to cut its own losses in Syria by fighting to the last non-Iranian Shia proxy, even when its own forces would have been more effective. Iran has lost nearly 500 military personnel in more than five years of fighting in Syria. In comparison, losses suffered by its proxy militias include more than 1,900 Iraqis, 1,100 Lebanese Hizbullah (1,700, according to Israeli estimates), 700 Afghans, and 150 Pakistanis. The writer is director of the Military and Security Studies Program at The Washington Institute.

2017-07-07 00:00:00

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