So, I’ll be doing the follow up on the “Iranian soldiers in Syria story”, but let me show you where we are at the current moment. First of all, many in the media (and the skeptics of this video) have already asked how we know this was not taken in some back room in a different country. How do we know this is Syria? Comments like these come from a lack of understanding about how credible reports like this actually are (which is, in part, because I am still working on my description of where all the videos/reports come from).
This is not some random video. It was uploaded via accounts based in Syria, and it was not in isolation. Our contacts heard, via their contacts in the FSA, that a video of the soldiers that had been captured was going to be released. It was almost an hour before we actually found the video. What does this mean? It means that the source of the video is trusted by the “news wing” of the Syrian opposition, sources that, I would add, have been consistently and overwhelmingly accurate for the past 10+ months. If this was a fabricated video, it would be highly uncharacteristic. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but this is not just some random video on Youtube. We see random videos on Youtube - and they don’t make it to EA.
Secondly, these men’s faces match the missing engineers.
Third, this is hardly the first evidence that we have of Iranians working for the Syrian security apparatus. There have been reports of this since the beginning, western journalists working in Turkey and Idlib province reported armed Iranian men working near Jisr al Shughour, and there is video of Iranian-sounding men, with beards, working with the security apparatus. I’d have to go way back in the live-blogs to find them, but the evidence is there.
4. According to some, the al-Farouk group are bad, bad men. I’ll only briefly touch on this as I’m working on this angle right now, but it’s entirely possible that they are guilty of abuses, the kinds of things that would question the integrity of the group, The evidence is clear, however, that these “Iranians” are the engineers, and they are clearly in the custody of the Faruk brigade. The rest of the narrative, whether the “engineers” are really “soldiers” is what is in question.
5. The military ideas are a striking piece of evidence. Also, both the Iranian and the Syrian governments have been very vague about what the Iranian “engineers” were doing in Homs in the first place. One could blame lack of free press in both countries for not uncovering the truth back in December. Or one could blame the lack of detail on the theory that the engineers were really soldiers.
6. So, our thinking is many many steps ahead of the skeptics so far. However, none of the skeptics have provided any evidence to suggest that these folk are really just engineers, or that the video was otherwise faked. We’re still at the very early stages of our research, however, and I’m positive that there is more information out there, so if you can find any please drop it in the comments section or otherwise let us know.