Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivering a speech at Azadi Square in the capital of Iran , Tehran , during a ceremony to mark the 38th anniversary of the Islamic revolution..
(photo credit: HO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY / AFP)
Iran has lost thousands of fighters and more than 10 generals during its engagement in the Syria- Iraq wars, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported on Sunday.
The report from the Glilot-based center analyzed the different estimates of Iranian losses that have been recently announced.
At a conference on martyrdom in Iranian culture on March 6, Mohammad Ali Shahidi, director of the Martyrs Foundation, estimated Iranian losses in the Syria-Iraq wars at 2,100.
The report noted that Washington Institute for Near East Policy researcher Ali Alfoneh recently put the number of Iranian losses at 2,603.
The center broke down the 2,603 as 511 actual Iranians, 1,045 Hezbollah fighters and 1,047 Afghan, Pakistani and other Shi’ite militia fighters – all under Iranian command.
Notably, more than 10 Iranians of the rank equivalent to a brigadier- general have been among those killed.
The intelligence report claimed that the high losses, especially of so many senior officers, is the reason Iran’s military footprint in Syria and Iraq has fallen from thousands to hundreds.
Other reports have speculated that Tehran has confirmed the numbers publicly now only because it senses that the wars are winding down and that there will not be significant additional Iranian losses.
There are also contrary reports by groups opposed to the regime claiming that Iran’s losses are far higher, but are being covered up.
Shahidi announced a loss of only around 1,000 Iranian fighters as recently as November.
While the Meir Amit Center indicates that the different numbers are based on different methodologies of counting, others say the discrepancy proves a cover-up.
Overall, the Meir Amit report says the broader significance is that Tehran is becoming a much more secondary player in directing the Assad regime, with primary military backup and direction now coming from Russia.