A rising death toll within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Syria is leading to a mutiny among some senior commanders, who have refused to obey orders to fight in the war-torn country, according to a source close to the Revolutionary Guard.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat the commanders, who are also joined by a number of junior officers, have now been referred to a court-marshal on charges of “mutiny and treason.”
Iran, which alongside Russia is Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s main international ally, has denied it has combat troops in Syria, claiming it has only sent officers and generals within an advisory capacity to assist both the Syrian army and Hezbollah militias.
The semi-official Fars news agency said on Tuesday some 30 military personnel from the Revolutionary Guard have been killed in Syria in recent weeks, including high-ranking figures such as Col. Mostafa Ezzatollah, Gen. Farshad Hasoonizadeh, and Gen. Hossein Hamedani, who were all killed in Aleppo.
Meanwhile, the source told Asharq Al-Awsat several Revolutionary Guard generals from Ahvaz province, which has a large Iranian–Arab population, have “chosen retirement and pursuing business activities” rather than having to head to Syria.
The Revolutionary Guard court-marshals have now opened an official investigation into the large numbers of suddenly retired generals from the region in what they called “this critical time” for the Revolutionary Guard, according to the source.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is charged with defending the values of Iran’s Islamic Revolution both inside the country and abroad and members must pledge unwavering loyalty to the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The source also said a recent rise in deaths among the much-feared Quds Force—an elite paramilitary unit of the Revolutionary Guard charged with carrying out foreign missions—has led its leadership to begin recruiting higher-ranking officers to fight in Syria.
Iranian opposition publication Rooz Online has reported recently that the Revolutionary Guard have begun utilizing new recruitment initiatives in the Sistan and Baluchistan province, in order to bolster their depleting ranks.
Recruiters are targeting the province’s religious and ethnic minorities—which include Kurds, Baluchs, and Sunni Muslims—as well as the poor, offering the equivalent of 830 dollars for six weeks’ service in Syria following training.