|Asleep at the wheel?|
In Shift, U.S. Invites Iran to Join Syria Talks - Jay Solomon & Felicia Schwartz
Iran will be invited to participate in international talks on the Syrian crisis Friday in Vienna, U.S. officials said, in a major shift in the Obama administration's approach. The U.S. and its Arab allies previously blocked Tehran from participating in UN-backed talks on Syria because of Tehran's deep military and financial support for Assad.
The White House also said it was willing to let President Assad remain in office and oversee a political transition in Syria, though he would eventually have to go.
The shift on Iran highlights the increased leverage of Russia and Iran after they jointly launched military operations in defense of Assad last month.
(Wall Street Journal)
Iran Steps Up Its Forces in Syria - Dugald McConnell & Brian Todd
Iran is increasing its military presence in Syria, Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, told Iranian television Monday. "I think there's more than 1,000 Iranians that are on the ground in Iraq," Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told senators. "In Syria, we think the numbers are probably something less than 2,000." A U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency official estimated that since 2013, Iran has lost eight senior Iranian commanders in Syria, including at least six generals.
Iran Confirms Losing 20 Revolutionary Guards - Umid Niayesh
The number of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps casualties in Syria reached 20 in the last week, the semi-official Iranian Defapress news agency reported.