Looks like Washington has been caught flat-footed in Syria again. The Times of London reports:
Thousands of Iranian troops have been flown into an airbase in Latakia for deployment to the front lines in Idlib, where heavy fighting with rebels is under way. Others are being moved towards Aleppo, where they will join a ground offensive involving regime forces and Hezbollah fighters in the coming days, according to Iranian sources.
Reports of Iranian troops on the ground in Syria have been mounting in recent weeks, with Iran confirming the death of several Iranian officers killed in combat outside Aleppo last week. Though an unnamed Obama Administration official has said that figures for the number of Iranian troops deployed overstate the reality by an order of magnitude, that misses the point.
Whatever the final figure ends up being, the Obama Administration’s apparent determination to downplay the significance of Iran’s contribution to the fight could be a grave miscalculation. When you have so many forces on so many scattered battlefronts, even a few hundred well-equipped, professionally trained, fresh troops can make a significant difference if you use them well. Thousands of such troops, if the numbers indeed reach that high, could help tip the regional balance, making President Obama’s public predictions of failure seem… premature at best.