Tehran is pulling its Iranian Revolutionary Crescent Guards out of Syria, Israeli officials confirmed Tuesday morning, amid high casualty rates among pro-Syrian forces.
Two weeks ago, a senior Western defense official estimated to Bloomberg News at the Saban Forum in Washington that just 700 Iranian troops remained in Syria, fighting alongside Hezbollah, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces, and Russian forces against Syrian rebels.
Israeli officials, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that estimate to Walla! News Tuesday, estimating just 700-800 Iranian soldiers remain in Syria, down from an estimated 2,000-7,000 as of late October.
Intelligence officials from the West and Israel both estimate that the high casualty count – particularly among high-ranking officers – has caught Tehran by surprise, although exact numbers are not yet known. The Iranian press runs death notices of Iranian soldiers killed in Syria daily.
In late November, a Syrian monitoring group confirmed that Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ (IRGC) elite Qods Force, was himself injured in Aleppo.