Iran to keep up military support for Syria regime: commander

A clergyman looks towards top Iranian military commanders including (L) Mohammad Pakpour, head of ground forces of the Revolutionary Guards, during the Army Day parade in Tehran on April 18, 2010

Iran will maintain its support for the Syrian government despite the deaths of hundreds of its advisers and volunteers in the six-year civil war, a commander said in comments published Tuesday.

Shiite Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah are the Syrian regime's most important military supporters after Russia in its battle against mainly Sunni rebels.

"We will send advisers in all fields and offer all help at our disposal so the resistance front doesn't break," the ground forces commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Pakpour, told the Fars news agency.

"They are present there now and we will deploy more as long as there is a need for advisory support."

Pakpour said that advisers from the Guards' ground forces, including the Saberin Special Forces Unit, were working alongside those from the Guards' Quds Force foreign operations arm.

Syrian chief of staff General Ali Abdullah Ayoub was in Tehran for talks on Tuesday.

In his meeting with Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan, Ayoub said Syria was "indebted to Iran's support," the Guards' SepahNews website reported.

Dehghan said: "The nations of Iran and Syria are fighting on the same front to remove the lethal threat of terrorism and restore peace and security to the region."

As well as advisers, Iran has sent thousands of "volunteer" fighters recruited among its own nationals as well as the Shiite communities in neighbouring Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It also has military advisers and trainers deployed in Iraq.

As of early March, at least 2,100 fighters sent from Iran had been killed in Iraq and Syria, according to Iranian officials.