Iran has transferred elements of its elite 65th Brigade to Syria. On arrival on Saturday Oct. 21, they assumed command of the Syrian Malik Ashtar commando brigade.
Tehran announced Saturday, October 21, that elements of its Special Operations 65th Brigade (which compares itself to US Green Berets), had been deployed to Syria to bolster the Assad regime’s depleted frontline forces. The transfer took place during Iranian Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri’s three-day visit to Damascus when a series of accords boosting their military cooperation accords were signed.
The 65th Brigade is one of four Iranian special operations outfits. It was the first regular Iranian military unit to be transferred to foreign soil, contrary to the Islamic Republic’s constitution. Until now, only Revolutionary Gards officers were deployed to Syria for command and training functions.
The new deployment was disclosed by Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, commander of the Iranian army’s ground forces. He reported that the capabilities of these Iranian commandoes were so advanced, that they immediately assumed command of the Syrian Malik Ashtar commando brigade.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that these Iranian troops are trained to operate behind enemy lines in small groups for capturing command posts, military positions and vehicles, before taking prisoners and bringing them back to Iranian-held terrain. They are also drilled for sabotage, such as blowing up bridges and strategic infrastructure deep inside enemy country. Iran’s 65th Brigade can act as a special counterterrorism unit.
The number of Iranian commandos transferred to Syria and their location were not disclosed.
The integration of Iranian special ops forces in the Syrian army has rattled the US command center in Jordan as well as Jordanian and Israeli military chiefs. Apart from the northern province of Idlib, most of the main Syrian towns held by rebels or ISIS have fallen into the hands of the Syrian government, taken with the help of Hizballah and other pro-Iranian allies.
So what exactly is the function of the new Iranian arrivals?
Neither the US, Jordan or Israel is eager to see these new arrivals anywhere in their vicinity. Above all, their arrival is a blunt challenge to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who have declared repeatedly that Israel would not tolerate the deepening of Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria and would take action to counter it.