The situation is Syria is escalating quickly as reports indicate that Hundreds of Iranian troops have moved into Syria to join a major ground offensive in support of President Bashar Assad’s government, as the White House expressed fears Thursday that Russia’s military intervention will worsen sectarian violence there and prolong the civil war. Two Lebanese sources told Reuters that hundreds of Iranian troops with equipment and weapons had reached Syria in the past 10 days to mount a major ground campaign. They would also be backed by Mr. Assad’s Lebanese Hezbollah allies and by Shiite militia fighters from Iraq, while Russia would provide air support.
“They will be followed by more,” one of the sources said of the Iranian troops. Russian warplanes, in a second day of strikes, bombed a camp run by rebels trained by the CIA, the group’s commander said, putting Moscow and Washington on opposing sides in a Middle East conflict for the first time since the Cold War. Hassan Haj Ali, head of the Liwa Suqour al-Jabal rebel group, which is part of the Free Syrian Army, said his group’s base in Idlib province was struck by around 20 missiles in two separate raids. His fighters had been trained by the CIA in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, part of a program Washington says is aimed at supporting groups that oppose both Islamic State and Mr. Assad. CONTINUE