Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said that the term "advisors" is used in a broad and multi-faceted sense and that "when this military formation goes into battle, the advisor transforms into a fighter." He said that "there are definitely Iranian advisors in Syria, and there are also groups of Iranian volunteers who have come to fight in Syria, and they are under the command of Iranian officers." Al-Assad further said that just as it was necessary to have Russian air bases in Syria, "if we find, through our dialogue with the Iranians, that there is a need for Iranian military bases, we will not hesitate." His statements were made on the Iranian Al-Alam TV channel on June 13 and were published online by the Syrian President office and various Syrian media outlets.
Interviewer: "What is the nature of the Iranian presence in Syria nowadays?"
Bashar Al-Assad: "The word 'advisor' is sometimes used in a broad sense. We had advisors even before the war, as part of our long-established relations with Iran. Our military relations are deeply rooted. When this military formation goes into battle, the advisor transforms into a fighter. So the word ['advisor'] is multi-faceted. There are definitely Iranian advisors in Syria, and there are also groups of Iranian volunteers who have come to fight in Syria, and they are under the command of Iranian officers. Iran has fought, has defended the Syrian people, and has sacrificed lives. So when we talk about 'advisors' we mean it in the broader sense perhaps, but this does not mean that any official Iranian presence is an embarrassment to us. We use the word 'advisors' because no regular Iranian units are fighting here – no battalions, brigades, or divisions. First of all, you cannot hide these kinds of units. Besides, why would we be ashamed of them? When we invited the Russians to legally come here, we were not ashamed. If any Iranian military formation were here, we would declare it. This would require agreements between the two countries, and the approval of both parliaments. You cannot hide such a thing.
"At one point, we, along with the Russians, decided that the presence of Russian air bases was necessary to support the Syrian army. If we find, through our dialogue with the Iranians, that there is a need for Iranian military bases [in Syria], we will not hesitate. Currently, however, the Iranian support in its present form is good and effective."