April 11, 2016 / 1:17 PM / a year ago

Four Iran army special forces troops killed in Syria: agency

DUBAI (Reuters) - Four soldiers in Iran's regular army were killed in Syria, the Tasnim news agency reported on Monday, only a week after Tehran announced the deployment of army commandos to help President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war there.

Tehran is Assad's main regional ally and has provided military and economic support to his fight against rebel groups and Islamic State militants.

To date, most Iranians involved in the Syrian war have been from the paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Iran is believed to have sent hundreds as military advisers.

But an officer in the Iranian army's ground force said last week that commandos from the army's Brigade 65 and other units were sent to Syria as advisers.

"Four of the first military advisors of the Islamic Republic's army...were killed in Syria by takfiri groups," Tasnim reported. Iran refers to the hardline Sunni Islamists as takfiris.

Tasnim has named one of them as Mohsen Qeytaslo, a commando, but has not identified the rest.

Commenting on the deployment of Brigade 65 to Syria, the commander of ground forces, Brigadier General Hamidreza Pourdastan, said on Monday it was Iran's new strategy to send more advisers to the Syrian war.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, Editing by William Maclean

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