The Syrian opposition has asserted that Iran operates half of Syria.
The opposition said Iran has gained control over at least 50 percent of Syrian territory. The control stemmed from the presence of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Teheran’s proxy, Hizbullah.
“They control at least half of Syria,” Ahmed Jarba, president of the Syrian National Council, said. “The real rulers of Syria are the Iranian Revolutionary Guard with the participation of Hizbullah fighters.”
The opposition claim matched those of Western diplomats earlier in 2013. The diplomats said Iran has taken control of most of Syria’s military and security forces as well as financing and equipping Shi’ite fighters from abroad.
In an interview with the Saudi-owned Al Hayat on Aug. 18, Jarba said President Bashar Assad was no longer the ruler of Syria. Jarba said Assad lost his authority to his Iranian allies.
“He has collapsed,” Jarba said. “He no longer runs Syria.”
Jarba did not provide details of the Iranian presence in Syria.
Diplomats said Iran has overseen the deployment of more than 50,000 troops and foreign fighters to save the Assad regime from the Sunni revolt.
he Syrian Army has maintained its offensive against the Sunni revolt in 2013. On Aug. 19, Assad troops fought Al Qaida-aligned fighters who had advanced along the Mediterranean coast to the military port of Latakia, deemed a critical stronghold of the regime.
“They sent massive reinforcements and heavily bombed rebel areas,” the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. “The army has only been able to secure the outskirts of some villages. The battles are ongoing and fierce.”
But Jarba maintained that the rebels were regrouping and improving capabilities through new training and weapons. He said the rebel Free Syrian Army was receiving advanced weapons for an offensive against Assad. “This will change the course of the revolution,” Jarba said.