The partial withdrawal of the Russian Air Force from Syria created a lack of firepower in fighting against militants. To deal with the shortage, Iran announced that Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution will send a limited operational force to Syria. Brig. Gen. Ali Arasteh Noted especially Brigade 65: “Brigade 65 is a part of our army’s ground force and we are dispatching soldiers from Brigade 65, as well as other units, as advisers to Syria. This dispatch is not limited to commandos of Brigade 65, as advisers of Brigade 65 are already there.”
It is important to note, it was the first time that Official Iranian authorities publicly spoke about Iran’s military operations against the Islamic-State and other militants in Syria.
Who is 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade?
Its original core was formed in the 1950s, when the army sent 10 senior officers to France for parachuting training. The “Green Berets” 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade was established in 1959 and was part of 23rd Commando Division. It glory the brigade gained during Iraq-Iran war participating in major operations such as Operation Beit ol-Moqaddas and Operation Karbala-5, and had activities in strategic mountains of Dopaza and Laklak in Sardasht, and in western regions in general. Some units of the brigade were present in Siege of Abadan. Also Brigade 65 participated in various clashes in provinces of Khuzestan, Sistan-o-Baluchestan (fighting drug trafficking and terrorism), and Kordestan.
TheBrigade specialized in hostage rescue missions, irregular warfare, psychological warfare and support and may perform tactical missions abroad. One of its training camps is located in jungles of Kelardasht, in which jungle warfare is trained during spring. The winter training camp is in Emamzadeh Hashem, in which there is a ski resort dedicated to the brigade, used for training snow warfare. The summer camp is located at Karaj Dam. Another camp is located in the desert of Qom, in which desert warfare is trained.
Syrian-government sources reported that the brigade deployed alongside Lebanese and Iraqi Hezbollah during fighting against Jabhat al-Nusra in Al-Eis. Iranian classifications put the size of brigades at about 6,000 to 7,000 troops. Thus, it is probable that about 100 to 200 Brigade 65 commandos have been deployed to Syria. During the fighting in south Aleppo the brigade lost number of its soldiers.
Evidence of involvement of additional Iranian units Stems from casualties from other units like, the 45th and 258th Special Forces, 33th Airborne Special Forces Brigade “Al-Mahdi”-fighters from this unit were killed mostly in Al-Zabadani area near Qalamoun Mountains during summer 2015, Fatemiyoun Brigade (Afghan Hezbollah), Liwa Zainebiyoun Brigade (Pakistan Hezbollah) and 338th Mechanized Infantry Division. There are also noticeable losses among IRGC high officer ranks.
Casualties from “Al-Mahdi” 33th Airborne Special Forces Brigade during Battle of Zabadani, Summer 2015.
Casualties from 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade, Killed in South Aleppo, Syria.
Colonel Mashalloah Shamesh, Brig. General Hasanali Shamsabadi and Colonel Ali Taheri killed, Killed in South Aleppo, Syria.
-Interestingly to note two groups of IRGC “Foreign fighters” which are fighting in Syria,
-Liwa Zainebiyoun (People of Zainab Brigade) is a contingent of Pakistani Shi’a fighters in Syria, officially fighting to defend the Sayyida Zainab shrine in Damascus claiming that it draws on Afghan Shi’a based in Pakistan. Due to the relatively small size there is not much information about the unit. The unit casualties in syria is the only record of their existence as a military force.
-Fatemiyoun Brigade also known as the Fatemiyoun Division, and is an Afghanistani Shia militia formed in 2014 to fight for in Syria. The Division primarily recruits from the approximately 3 million Afghan refugees in Iran many are illiterate. This unit also fought in the liberation Palmyra and has the heaviest amount of losses
Persian writing in Palmyra area :”Herat boys of Fatemiun were here. Ya Zeynab”