|Iran's Revolutionary Guard is inside Syria shooting the protestors when|
Syrian troops refuse to do so.
"For the Iranians, these are not their people. It's easier for them to do the job."
The Los Angeles Times ran an extensive article about the violence inside Syria. Their information came directly from Syrian Army defectors who were being ordered to shoot down everyone or be shot themselves. One of the defectors was an officer in Syria's military intelligence service.
From the Los Angeles Times
Iran inside Syria
Unwilling to fire on unarmed people, he said he fell back with another soldier, who was from the town and knew the backstreets. Soon, he said, they dropped their guns and were fleeing down narrow lanes past the corpses of civilians, some of them children, in the streets and on doorsteps.
"Usually, there is a whole line of security forces behind our backs" to shoot soldiers who refuse to fire on protesters, the sergeant recounted. "I was lucky to be able to run away."
A protester is carried away by friends during a protest in Damascus in this still image taken from
an amateur video footage uploaded to social networking websites
On one of the final days before the Baniyas operation, the lieutenant said, more than a dozen vehicles carrying Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops arrived. Like members of the Syrian mukhabarat, the Iranians wore Syrian army uniforms, he said. But the Iranians kept to themselves, speaking to one another in a language that few of the Syrians could follow.
U.S. and European officials have charged that Iran's Revolutionary Guard is aiding the Syrian crackdown. The European Union has leveled sanctions against Iranian officials and specific Revolutionary Guard units for the alleged support, which Iran denies.
The lieutenant said he was accustomed to seeing Revolutionary Guard troops in Syria, but usually for joint training, and never so many at once.
"For the Iranians, these are not their people," the lieutenant said, referring to the Syrian protesters targeted. "It's easier for them to do the job."
Even before the crackdown, Syrian soldiers knew of the Revolutionary Guard's presence by their marksmanship, said the alleged defector from Syria's military intelligence, a first lieutenant in his late 40s.
The mukhabarat lieutenant said that in Homs, a western city that has experienced some of the most unrelenting protests in the six-month uprising and the harshest crackdowns, one of his duties was taking Iranian marksmen to the rooftops of strategic government buildings and other high vantage points — the municipal electricity building, the post office and a hotel — where they would have a wide view of the protesters.
But another crucial component of the Syrian crackdown is the shabiha, civilians armed with guns and clubs.
The defectors describe the plainclothes shabiha as among the most remorseless government enforcers. Those who are employed are often poorly paid street cleaners, moonlighting to supplement their income, according to the Syrian captain.
"Every day they get $20 to $30," said the 30-year-old captain, who is now living in Lebanon near the Syrian border. "The pay depends on how good of a shape they're in."
A single motive has led many members of the shabiha to beat and shoot fellow Syrians, the captain said: "Money."
"It's their job," he said. "They don't have any other work."
He said he watched at protests as mukhabarat stationed shabiha around a square, or around mosques, to fire on worshipers trying to leave after prayers.
At this point, the captain said, both government and opposition forces feel they are waging a life-or-death struggle, that they will be killed by the other side if they capitulate.
The activists "know that if they stop now, they are finished," said the officer, his hair still military-short, as he spoke in a front parlor with a window opening onto the mountains of Syria. "And Assad will fight to the last drop of blood from a Syrian."
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