"(This article was reported by a journalist in Syria whose name is withheld for security reasons)
HOMS PROVINCE, Syria (Reuters) - The
Syrian government is sending members of its irregular militias for guerrilla
at a secret base in Iran, in a
move to bolster its armed forces drained by two years of fighting and
defections, fighters and activists said.
The discreet program has been described as an open secret in some areas loyal
to President Bashar al-Assad, who is trying to crush a revolt against his
family's four-decade hold on power.
Reuters interviewed four fighters who said they were taken on the combat
course in Iran, as
well as opposition sources who said they had also been documenting such
Israel's intelligence chief and a Western diplomat have said Iran, Assad's
main backer, is helping to train at least 50,000 militiamen and aims to increase
the force to 100,000 - though they did not say where the training occurred......."