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Iran aiding Syrian govt. with "lethal assistance": U.S. officials

Washington , Sun, 04 Mar 2012 ANI

Washington, Mar 4 (ANI): U.S. officials believe Iran is offering assistance to the Syrian regime in the increasingly brutal crackdown on opposition strongholds in Syria.


Evidences indicate that Iranian military and intelligence were supporting the government troops there, which was accused of mass executions and other atrocities in the past week.


"The aid from Iran is increasing, and is increasingly focused on lethal assistance," The Washington Post quoted one of the officials, as saying.


The flow of military aid to Assad comes as Arab states are considering arming the regime's opponents, raising the risk of a wider conflict that U.S. officials fear could spread to neighboring countries.


Iran had, in fact not hidden about its support for the Assad regime, though President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made repeated calls for a peaceful solution to the conflict, which began almost a year ago.


The U.S. intelligence assessments are somewhat similar to recent reports by Syrian rebels, who say Iran's involvement in the crackdown has escalated. Opposition leaders, citing high-ranking defectors from the Syrian military, say Iran has dispatched hundreds of advisers, security officials and intelligence operatives to Syria, along with weapons, money and electronic surveillance equipment.


"Iran has been involved in the crackdown by Assad on a much larger scale than previously thought," Ammar Abdulhamid, a Washington-based Syrian activist and a member of the Syria Working Group of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank, said.


Stories of Syrian troops being accompanied by black-bearded men speaking a foreign language and assumed to be Iranian have circulated widely inside Syria for many months, but activists acknowledge they have little hard evidence that Iranians are actually participating in the offensives.


"We saw some evidence, but we can't prove it," a resident, who fled to Lebanon from the former opposition stronghold of Bab Amr in Homs a week ago. "We have seen tall guys, big guys wearing black." (ANI)


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