Iranian fighters among group captured by Syrian rebels

Many of the 48 Iranian men captured in Syria on August 4 who claimed to be religious pilgrims are in fact active-duty Iranian Revolutionary Guard members, multiple U.S. officials tell Fox News.

Members of the Free Syrian Army captured the group while they traveled on a bus in Damascus.

According to these officials, top members of the Iranian government have reached out to President Bashar Assad to help secure their release. The Iranians say these men were on a Shiite pilgrimage visiting the Sayyida Zeinab shrine, a holy Shiite site in the suburbs of Damascus.

Syria’s state television claimed the men were captured by an “armed terrorist group.”

But U.S. officials, who spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity, say these men were not on a pilgrimage; rather, they were there to offer support for the Assad regime.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday, “it’s obvious Iran is playing a larger role in Syria in many ways.” Panetta said there is evidence not only that Iranians are providing training and assistance to the Syrian Army, but that they are trying to “develop a militia to be able to fight on behalf of the regime.”

 

Panetta described Iran’s growing influence as a “deep concern” for the United States.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said this Iranian support is further evidence that the Syrian Army needs help. “The Syrian Army has been fighting now for about 18 months or so,” Dempsey said.  “Any Army would be taxed at that kind of pace. They are having resupply problems, they are having morale problems, they are having the kind of wear and tear that would come from being in a fight for as long as they have.”

Fox News

Photo: This image from a video released by the Baraa Brigades purports to show Free Syrian Army soldiers guarding a group of Iranians captured a day earlier.

  • breakthemould

    Such a hoo ha. What qualifies the Americans to decide whether they are pilgrimages or not? – The same applies to the Rebels. We need hard evidence. The Americans do not have men or women on the ground nor do they have press or diplomats to qualify the Americans to state this one way or the other. On the other hand the same could apply to the rebels. Let any party who makes any claim give hard evidence. Where is this? This reminds me of the saying that in ware the first victim is the truth.

  • breakthemould

    Such a hoo ha. What qualifies the Americans to decide whether they are pilgrimages or not? – The same applies to the Rebels. We need hard evidence. The Americans do not have men or women on the ground nor do they have press or diplomats to qualify the Americans to state this one way or the other. On the other hand the same could apply to the rebels. Let any party who makes any claim give hard evidence. Where is this? This reminds me of the saying that in ware the first victim is the truth.

  • Patience2

    Yah, these creeps, with the proper evidence, should definitely be ‘gotten rid of’.

    • Marwan Kassem

      Yah??? What are you German or Swedish?

      • Patience2

         Don’t like ‘fuzzy-faces’ OR their criminal representatives.  Remember, ‘with proper evidence’.

  • Patience2

    Yah, these creeps, with the proper evidence, should definitely be ‘gotten rid of’.

    • Marwan Kassem

      Yah??? What are you German or Swedish?

      • Patience2

         Don’t like ‘fuzzy-faces’ OR their criminal representatives.  Remember, ‘with proper evidence’.

  • Patience2

    Yah, these creeps, with the proper evidence, should definitely be ‘gotten rid of’.

    • Marwan Kassem

      Yah??? What are you German or Swedish?

      • Patience2

         Don’t like ‘fuzzy-faces’ OR their criminal representatives.  Remember, ‘with proper evidence’.

  • Lebanese_Australian

    America and her western allies are playing just a large role in this as iran is. They just as well as iran are fighting a proxy war through syria. 

  • Lebanese_Australian

    America and her western allies are playing just a large role in this as iran is. They just as well as iran are fighting a proxy war through syria. 

  • Marwan Kassem

    I like Dempsey’s comment “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said this Iranian support is further evidence that the Syrian Army needs help. “The Syrian Army has been fighting now for about 18 months or so,” Dempsey said.  ”Any Army would be taxed at that kind of pace”.
    Excuse me General Dempsey How long has the US been in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    • 5thDrawer

      You forgot they get ‘time off’ and rotational breaks ….. 

  • Marwan Kassem

    I like Dempsey’s comment “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said this Iranian support is further evidence that the Syrian Army needs help. “The Syrian Army has been fighting now for about 18 months or so,” Dempsey said.  ”Any Army would be taxed at that kind of pace”.
    Excuse me General Dempsey How long has the US been in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    • 5thDrawer

      You forgot they get ‘time off’ and rotational breaks ….. 

  • I_care_2

    You guys are just stupid(sorry). I think they are telling you that the sky is blue. Do you you thoink you should check? Of course they are revolution gaurds from Iran. No matter what anyone calls the FSA, THEY ARE ABOVE ALL FROM SYRIA TRYING TO STOP THE TYRANNY OF A REGIME THAT OPPRESSES AND PERSECUTES ITS PEOPLE. No matter what SANA (regime mouthpiece) calls the them they are certainly not armed terrorists.

    Do you think that if all the fighting stops today, Assad stays in power and the SNC agree that the people will agree to this NO?

    So, i think you should all support the SNC AND FSA and get rid of Assad and start rebuilding your lives and country for the sake of your children. Education is the one thing that has created the problem called the “ARAB SPRING” and its a good problem to have. Otherwise you would be permanetly living under the shoe of your leader.

  • I_care_2

    You guys are just stupid(sorry). I think they are telling you that the sky is blue. Do you you thoink you should check? Of course they are revolution gaurds from Iran. No matter what anyone calls the FSA, THEY ARE ABOVE ALL FROM SYRIA TRYING TO STOP THE TYRANNY OF A REGIME THAT OPPRESSES AND PERSECUTES ITS PEOPLE. No matter what SANA (regime mouthpiece) calls the them they are certainly not armed terrorists.

    Do you think that if all the fighting stops today, Assad stays in power and the SNC agree that the people will agree to this NO?

    So, i think you should all support the SNC AND FSA and get rid of Assad and start rebuilding your lives and country for the sake of your children. Education is the one thing that has created the problem called the “ARAB SPRING” and its a good problem to have. Otherwise you would be permanetly living under the shoe of your leader.