In its first official reaction to the fall of Aleppo, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) hailed the seizure of Syria’s second largest city as a “divine gift” to the Iranian regime and a prelude to bigger achievements by Iran and its regional proxies across the Middle East.
“By entering Aleppo and committing acts of terrorism, the enemies of the Islamic community tried to create a ‘new Middle East’ that Americans and Zionists wanted. But the fierce resistance of the Syrian people and army, Lebanese Hezbollah, the Russian government, and the highly effective and pivotal advisory presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran foiled their plots,” Brigadier General Ramazan Sharif, the head of the IRGC’s public relations directorate told semi-official Fars News Agency.
“This victory was made possible by resistance, defiance, strength, and faith exhibited by Syria’s army and its allies… and reliance on Imam’s [Founder of Iranian Revolution Ruhollah Khomeini] thoughts and strategic guidance of the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei],” the IRGC spokesman noted. “What happened in Aleppo proved that Syria’s people, army and allies triumphed over the enemies’ big and strategic plots. And certainly, this victory will help resolve the crisis in Yemen and Bahrain.”
The IRGC spokesman’s remarks indicate that Iranian leaders see the fall of Aleppo, the last urban headquarter of the opposition forces, as a pivotal point that helps not only to consolidate the Baathist dictatorship in Damascus but also to export Iran’s revolution across the region.
Ramazan’s claim that the IRGC plays only an advisory role in the Syrian war, however, is an outright lie. Over the past five years, the IRGC and its secretive Quds Force have deployed scores of senior commanders and fighters to the Syrian front lines and have sustained heavy casualties. Quds Force commander, Qassem Suleimani, has also mobilized tens of thousands of Shiite militants from South Asia and the Arab world to fight Iran’s sectarian war in Syria.
The IRGC commander’s comments also demonstrate that the Iranian regime sees regional uprisings and conflicts as an opportunity to export Iran's revolutionary agenda and expand its ideological and political spheres of influence in the region. As Ramazan alludes, the IRGC’s subversive actions are not confined to Syria and Iraq, but will continue to threaten the stability of other Middle Eastern countries such as Yemen and Bahrain.