Iran Guards Present in Lebanon, Syria as 'Counselors'

The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Sunday members of his elite special operations unit, the Quds Force, are present in Lebanon and Syria but only to provide "counsel."

"A number of Quds Force members are present in Lebanon and Syria... we provide (these countries) with counsel and advice, and transfer experience to them," Guards commander Brigadier General Mohammed Ali Jaafari told a rare press conference.

"But it does not mean that we have a military presence there," he said.

This is the first time the Guards publicly acknowledge the presence of Quds members in Syria.

Several Western and Arab countries accuse Iran of giving military aid to the regime of its main ally in the region, President Bashar Assad, helping it in Syria's bloody conflict.

Iran is "proud of defending Syria, a member of the (anti-Israeli) resistance," Jafari said, "by providing them with experience while other countries are not shy of supporting terrorist groups," he added using Iran's official term for the Syrian opposition.

Iran accuses Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar of arming the opposition in Syria, in collusion with the United States and Israel, to overthrow Assad.

The Quds Force is a special unit responsible for all extra territorial operations, official or clandestine, of the Guards.

Western analysts say the unit, with thousands of members, is particularly active in the Middle East.

Source: Agence France Presse

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