DUBAI: Several Iranian soldiers were killed near Aleppo, the Revolutionary Guards said on Saturday, in what appeared to be one of Iran’s biggest losses in Syria since it deployed forces to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Islamist militants on Friday seized the strategic village of Khan Touman, some 15km southwest of Aleppo. Dozens of people were reported to have been killed in the battle.
Fars news agency on Saturday quoted a Revolutionary Guards official as saying that 13 Iranian military advisers had been killed and 21 wounded in the fighting.
The attack on Khan Touman was launched by an alliance of militants known as Jaish al-Fatah, including the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, which has rejected diplomatic efforts to halt the five-year civil war.
Earlier this week, the United States and Russia brokered a ceasefire in the city of Aleppo itself. But fighting in the countryside to the south of the city, one of the major fronts where Iranian-backed forces have been deployed, has escalated in recent days.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group that monitors the conflict, said that Syrian and Russian jet planes have intensified their bombing of insurgent posts.
Jaish al-Fatah and affiliates have published on social media videos and photos of what appear to be the bodies of Iranians or other Shia militias who were killed in Khan Touman.
Some videos include footage of their wallets, personal documentation and Iranian currency.
There are indications that some of the casualties might be Afghans who are trained in Iran and are deployed alongside Iranian soldiers in Syria.