Iran is sending thousands of fighters to help the Bashar Assad regime in it’s ongoing conflict with rebel forces, according to a Syrian opposition leader.
Col. Abdul-Jabbar Mohammed Aqidi, the commander of rebel forces in Aleppo province, was quoted in Al Arabiya on Saturday saying that 3,000 Iranians had already passed through Damascus International Airport in the last week.
Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi denied the report, saying the Islamic Republic had no troops in Syria and that the Syrian government did not request such assistance.
In related news, Syrian rebels shot down a government fighter jet on Saturday morning, according to an Al Jazeera report from Aleppo. Opposition forces are claiming that they now control 60 percent of the city.
Information about the downed Syrian Air Force plane was not confirmed by any other sources.
Israel Radio reported that more than 140 people were killed in Syria on Friday, mostly in Aleppo. The commercial hub along with the capital, Damascus, have become the recent focal points for the Bashar Assad regime in its 17-month bloody crackdown on dissenters.
The UN General Assembly on Friday voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution denouncing the ongoing violence in Syria. The version of the resolution that passed was a defanged draft, which left out earlier provisions calling for Assad to step down and calling on the international community to impose further sanctions.
Speaking of the situation in Aleppo ahead of the UN vote, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “The acts of brutality that are being reported may constitute crimes against humanity or war crimes… Such acts must be investigated and the perpetrators held to account.”