TEHRAN, June 18 (RIA Novosti) – Iran has no plans to send troops to aid Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces in the ongoing civil war there, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, rejecting media reports claiming Tehran was set to intervene directly in the fighting.
“We categorically deny this information,” Seyed Abbas Araqchi said, adding Tehran has never and would never send its troops to Damascus. Syria’s government forces have all the necessary means to fight against “terrorists acting in Syria,” and “Iran has no need to provide military aid to Syria’s authorities,” he said.
The Independent on Sunday, citing "pro-Iranian sources," reported on June 16 that Iran, Syria’s strategic ally, has decided to send 4,000 troops to Syria. Iran “has proposed opening up a new ‘Syrian’ front on the Golan Heights against Israel” to help prop up the Assad regime, the paper said.
The decision to send a contingent of Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria was taken before the June 14 presidential election which brought reformist-backed cleric Hassan Rouhani to power, the report said.
Iran has traditionally been a strong supporter of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia group which has previously fought with Israel and has a power base in southern Lebanon adjacent to the border area with Syria. Hezbollah has already intervened in the conflict in support of Assad, according to the Syrian opposition and media reports. The US and Israel have accused Tehran of supplying the group with weapons, which it denies.
The US said last week it had decided to supply the Syrian rebel forces with unspecified military assistance because it had “high confidence” that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons in the conflict. That claim was supported by Britain, but dismissed by Russia on Friday as “unconvincing.”