For the first time since the eruption of the Syrian revolution almost four years ago, opposition forces have captured a female Russian soldier suspected of operating missile systems recently sent from Moscow to the Assad regime, a Saudi daily reported on Sunday.
According to Al-Watan, the Russian soldier was captured by the Free Syrian Army in the southern front, which has witnessed heavy fighting in recent days between rebel groups and Assad forces backed by Iran and Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based watchdog, reported last week that 5,000 Iranian and Hezbollah fighters have been deployed to the Quneitra and Daraa provinces, near the border with Israel.
The Syrian rebels have also managed to capture a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer among a group of 40 pro-Assad fighters arrested in recent days. Al-Watan reported that the identity of the men will be exposed within days in order to prove “the involvement of Iran, Hezbollah and Russia in the fighting alongside the Assad regime in Syria.”
On Saturday, a Syrian opposition group, the al-Furqan Brigades, published footage of an Iranian officer killed in battle. Opposition news website Zaman al-Wasl identified the man as Haj Abbas Abdullahi, one of Iran’s most decorated snipers and a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
In an interview with the website on Sunday, Muhammad al-Khatib, commander of the al-Furqan Brigades, estimated that 80% of the fighters combating his forces are “Shiite mercenaries” from countries as far as Pakistan and Afghanistan, assembled under a unit called “the Fatimids Brigade.”
“There is no longer a thing called the Syrian Army,” Khatib told Zaman al-Wasl. “We are fighting militias from across the world under Iranian command.”