Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 14
By Umid Niayesh- Trend:
Four members of Iran's Basij force, a conservative volunteer militia and a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, were killed during fighting in Syria.
With these latest casualties, Tehran's death toll in Syrian clashes over the past month surpassed 50.
Masoud Askari, Mohammad Reza Dehghan, Mostafa Mousavi and Ahmad Etaei, who were members of the Basij force from the capital city of Tehran, were killed near Aleppo, reports the Basijpress news portal, which is affiliated with Tehran's IRGC.
The four Iranians were killed during a firefight with "Takfiri terrorists" on the night of Nov. 12, and their bodies were afterwards returned to Iran, according to the report.
Iranian officials refer to extremist Sunni armed groups in Syria and Iraq, including the Islamic State (IS, aka ISIL, ISIS or Daesh), as "Takfiri."
The dead Basij members were in Syria as "volunteers" to defend the "holy shrines" of the Shiites.
Tehran describes Iranian and foreign nationals dispatched to Syria to support the Damascus government as "the defenders of the holy shrines".
The Syrian army, backed by the Russian Air Force, IRGC and Lebanon's Hezbollah, launched a massive operation, dubbed "Muharram", on October 15 to take control of Aleppo.
Iran denies that it has deployed soldiers to fight in Syria, saying it only provides the Syrian army with military advisers.
Tehran has consistently expressed support for the Syrian government, since it views the regime of Bashar al Assad as its main strategic ally in the region and part of an "axis of resistance" against Israel.
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