TEHRAN, Iran — Earlier this month, Brig. Gen. Ali Arasteh, deputy chief liaison of the Iranian army's ground force, for the first time publicly spoke about Iran’s military operations against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria. He told Iranian reporters, “Brigade 65 is a part of our army’s ground force and we are dispatching soldiers from Brigade 65, as well as other units, as advisers to Syria. This dispatch is not limited to commandos of Brigade 65, as advisers of Brigade 65 are already there.”
With the exception of the 1980-88 war with Iraq, the army had not conducted foreign operations since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. Only the Quds Force, the external operations branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and the Fatehin Brigade, made up of Iranian volunteers, had conducted advisory and ground operations in Syria and Iraq. The army is solely responsible for defending Iran’s borders, though if ordered by the commander in chief, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, it can also undertake assigned foreign missions.