The elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is retreating from Syria.
Just 700 of the elite forces remain in the country, according to Bloomberg. The figure does not, however, include Iranian military advisers embedded among the Syrian armed forces since 2012.
More than 7,000 troops were fighting for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in October, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. By late October, U.S. General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified that just 2,000 Iranian troops were fighting in the country.
The deaths and injuries of top officers in major military campaigns this year has clearly taken its toll on the force, and convinced Iran enough is enough. “They are losing lieutenants,” former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford told Bloomberg. “When you lose lieutenants it means you are losing people fighting on the front lines.”
Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the Saban Forum at the Brookings Institute last Friday that the campaign to take back control of the Idlib province and other areas that have come under rebel control has been a “failure.”
Ya’alon cited the “incompetence” of the Syrian armed forces, and the “lack of determination of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps” as factors in that failure.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken up the battle, however, with Moscow’s military forces escalating their air campaign in Aleppo. Russia remains firm that Assad is the best option for leadership in Syria, despite the fact that only a small bit of territory around Damascus actually remains under his control.
The rest of what once was Syria has been carved up into small emirates and bits of territory divided among the rebel groups, Al Qaeda-linked forces and the Da’esh (ISIS) terror organization.