Syrias little helpers

Refugees from the Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughour are all talking unprompted about a possible Iranian involvement in the crackdown in the town, Martin Chulov reports.

Speaking from southern Turkey via Skype, Martin says:

All of them have said unprompted that during the Syrian army operation last Saturday there were a number of men wearing black and fully bearded, which is very unusual in Syria, certainly among the security services.

Everybody has hinted, or said directly, that these people did not speak Arabic. The implications being that they may well have been Iranian.

Two days ago the Foreign Office in London said there had been Iranian officers on the ground in Syrian helping the regime.

We were told that these people played a significant role in helping with the technical side, but this is the first we’ve heard that there were unexplained people in the conflict zone standing alongside Syrian soldiers.

If Iran is involved on the ground it does mark a significant step upwards. It would say that there is some significant pressure being felt in Damascus and indeed by Iran if they are prepared to send people to front lines like this to assist the Syrians in a crackdown.

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