Release video footage shows Iranian officers supervising Syrian soldiers
Screen captureVideo footage purporting to show Iranian military officers giving instrucitons to members of the Syrian army have been published on YouTube, heating an ongoing debate over Iran’s military presence in Syria.
The videos were reportedly published by the Daoud brigade, a rebel group based in northwest Syria which is fighting the government alongside rebel soldiers, according to Al-Jazeera. The Douad brigade obtained the videos while figthting in the Aleppo region and said government soldiers were killed on that day, including an Iranian commander who can be seen in the videos.
Authorities from Iran have reportedly denied the claims, saying the videos were fake. But after reviewing the footage, France 24 team members who speak Arabic and Persian said the videos include several details strongly pointing toward their authenticity.
According to France 24, in this first video, the cameraman films inside a building bearing the inscription “Sayyida Rokaya headquarters” (named after the daughter of Hussein. Hussein was the son of Ali, the Islamic Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law, who is revered as a martyr by Shiite Muslims). The cameraman can be heard reading a poster in Arabic, and then translating it into Persian. He then films banners celebrating Ali and Hussein, who are revered by Iranian Shiites – but not by Alawites, who adhere to the branch of Shiism that Syrian president Bashar Al Assad belongs to. In the video, you can also see posters explaining the rules and security regulations that fighters must follow. This text is written in both Arabic and Persian.
In this second video, an officer gives orders to soldiers, France 24 has reported. This man’s uniform bears a Syrian flag in the back, but he speaks Persian with the cameraman. He talks to the soldiers in rather poor Arabic, with a thick Persian accent. He asks how many snipers are present (at 0’26”) and orders the soldiers to let enemy troops approach until they are just 50 metres away before opening fire.
At the end of this video, about three minutes in, the officer speaks in Persian to a soldier standing in a tank. This soldier bears a strong resemblance to Mohsen Haydary, a 29-year-old Iranian soldier that a Persian news site claimed died as a “martyr” two weeks ago. This website described Mohsen Haydary as a “defender of the Sayyida Zaynab mausoleum”, a Shiite holy site located near Damascus.
Finally, in this last video, an Iranian officer and a cameraman carry out a conversation in Persian. The officer explains that the battle being fought in the region is particularly decisive, and talks about how hard it is to dislodge the rebels. At 3’50”, he stops to talk to a Syrian man whom he introduces to the cameraman as being a member of the Republican Guard, an elite division of the Syrian army headed by Assad’s brother Maher Al Assad. The two men embrace; the Iranian man then asks the Republican Guard officer to deploy his troops “even if the armed groups attack” (4’03”). The latter says he’ll follow these instructions and adds that he’s got soldiers securing the road.