Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Photo: AFP
WASHINGTON DC—The United States military believes that Iran has fewer than 2,000 troops in Syria fighting alongside government forces, said a top US general Tuesday.
Reuters news agency quoted Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that in addition to its troops in Syria Iran also has more than 1,000 soldiers in Iraq.
"I think there's more than 1,000 that are on the ground in Iraq," Dunford said. "In Syria, we think the numbers are probably something less than 2,000."
Gen. Dunford said that the number of Iranian troops in Iraq has changed over time.
Hussein Salami, deputy commander in chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards told the media on Monday that his country has four levels of military presence in Syria: leadership, tactical, technical and operational.
According to Persian news reports, around 20 Iranian soldiers have been killed in Syria in less than a week, mainly near the city of Aleppo.
Deputy commander in chief Salami said that the cause of the rising death toll among his troops is their active participation in recent offensives.
Hundreds of Iranian soldiers and voluntary fighters have traveled to Syria in the last four years, calling themselves Defenders of the Zainab Shrine, an important Shiite religious site in Damascus.