Iran ready to provide 'air support' in Syria

Iran ready to provide 'air support' in Syria
Iran has said it will back the Assad regime with air support at the request of Damascus, as Saudi Arabia maintains pressure on Syrian regime.
2 min read
15 February, 2016
Russia began a bombing campaign in Syria last September [Getty]
Iran's air defence commander has said Iran is prepared to provide the Syrian government with "aerial advisory assistance", a day after Saudi Arabia deployed combat aircraft to Turkey.

Farzad Esmaili said on Sunday that Iran would spare no effort to help Syria with its aerial bombardment against rebel groups and the Islamic state group [IS] and that Saudi intervention Syria would be "doomed to failure".

A Russian-backed regime offensive in Aleppo has recently given the Syrian regime a new lease on life and prompted tens of thousands of people to flee to Turkey.

"If the Syrian government asks for help in the field of air defence from Iran, we are fully prepared to provide assistance," Esmaili told local media.

"Syria is a great Islamic country with an official government that has bravely faced terrorists for over five years. Therefore, Saudi intervention in northern Syria without coordination from the legitimate government would be doomed to failure," he said.

Esmaili added that Saudi Arabia should end its military intervention in Yemen, which is "spilling the blood of innocent people" and "massacring children".

A Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Iran-backed rebels in Yemen since March, further straining ties between Riyadh and Tehran.

Iran, Syria's regional ally, supports President Bashar al-Assad by sending "military advisers and consultants" to fight alongside the Syrian army, however, opposition groups have accused Iran of sending combat troops.

Three Iranian "military advisers" were killed this week in northern Syria, bringing the official number of Iranian casualties in Syria up to 186.

On Sunday, another senior Iranian commander warned Saudi Arabia against sending troops to Syria.

Deputy chief of staff Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri told Iran's Arabic-language Al-Aalam television that: "We definitely won't let the situation in Syria to go forward the way rebel countries want. We will take necessary actions in due time".

"The terrorists fighting in Syria today are forces of Saudi Arabia or the Americans or even reactionary forces in the region," Jazayeri added.