At least 113 Iranian nationals, 121 Afghan nationals, and 20 Pakistani nationals have died fighting on behalf of Syria’s beleaguered president, Bashir al Assad, according to a Washington think tank report that scoured public reports about troops in Syria.
According to funeral announcements published in Persian language publications, these 254 foreign fighters — all Shiites – died in Syria in the last 2.5 years, a report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy released Monday found. Indeed, 42 fighters were buried in Tehran. All the Iranians served in the Iranian Revolution Guard Corps. The first known Iranian to die in Syria was Ali Asgari Taqanaki, 30, who died in Damascus on January 28, 2013, the report found. Taqanaki was a member of the Quds Force, the IRGC’s special forces unit.
While the IRGC conceded in 2012 that its Quds Force "were present" in Syria, the report offers the first detailed numerical breakdown of how Iran’s ground forces are part of the four-year long civil war. There are believed to be hundreds of Iranian forces in Syria, as Iran seeks to keep Assad in power.
Iran’s investment in Syria extended beyond its own fighters. According to the report, the Afghan and Pakistani nationals killed were “organized by — and still report to — the Qods Force.”