The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps has confirmed the presence of Qods Force members in Syria, adding, however, that “this does not mean that Iran has a military presence in that country.”
At a press conference in Tehran, Mohammad Ali Jafari said: “Everybody knows that the IRGC has a unit called Islamic Movements, which was established with the objective of helping the oppressed and exporting the Islamic Revolution, and it is active toward this mission.”
Since the Qods force was established in the IRGC, Jafari said, it has been present in Lebanon and Syria with the aim of “protecting Muslims.”
The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards added that Iran “prides itself” on being able to offer the Islamic Republic’s experience for the “protection of Syrians.”
Jafari stressed that the Guards offer “intellectual, moral and economic support” which is not comparable to what he described as the vast military support extended by the Arab countries to the Syrian opposition.
He added that the security agreement between Iran and Syria obliges Iran to extend military support “only under certain conditions.”
Since the beginning of the unrest in Syria, Western countries have alleged that Qods Forces have been present in Iran and are training Syria security forces.
The EU has imposed sanctions on the Qods Force for its alleged involvement in the oppression of Syrian protesters.
The head of the IRGC and several more of its commanders are also under EU sanctions, which means they are barred from travelling to EU countries and any assets they have there are frozen.
Currently, 47 Iranians are held hostage by the Syrian opposition group, the Free Syrian Army. Iran claims that they were simply devout Muslims on a pilgrimage to Zeinab’s Shrine but it has also confirmed that some retired IRGC members were present in the group.