Iranian media has reported that 13 of its military advisers have been killed and 21 wounded near Aleppo in Syria. The ongoing battle for the war-torn country continues to draw other countries into the fold.
Reports surfaced on Saturday that 13 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards had been killed in battle near the city of Aleppo, which has seen renewed fighting over the past several weeks.
Fars, an Iranian state news agency, said that in addition to those killed, 21 had also been wounded. The soldiers were there working as military advisers.
The fighting occurred in the village of Khan Touman, about 15 km (9 miles) southwest of Aleppo, after an attack by a coalition of al Qaeda-affiliated Islamist insurgents known as Jaish al-Fatah.
Ceasefire in place, but fighting continues
The news came shortly after the US and Russia agreed to extend a ceasefire to include Aleppo, which has seen hundreds of civilian deaths since the fighting intensified in April.
Photos of the dead soldiers were posted on social media showing wallets and money to prove they were affiliated with Iran. The Revolutionary Guards subsequently issued a statement urging the public not give in to the terrorists' psychological fear tactics.
Iran has been ambiguous regarding its exact role in the ongoing Syrian conflict, although the government has explicitly stated it supports the rule of President Bashar al Assad, putting it at odds with the US and other Western powers.
blc/jm (Reuters, AFP)