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      SFA: Iranian Tanks, Hizbullah Hit Squads in Homs

      The top general for the Syrian Free Army says Iran and Hizbullah are actively aiding Bashar al-Assad in his brutal crackdown.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 3/1/2012, 1:31 PM

      SFA Forces Inspect Captured Tank
      SFA Forces Inspect Captured Tank
      Reuters

      The top general for the Syria Free Army accused Iran and Hizbullah of activly aiding Damascus in quelling dissent in the country.

      "Iranian armored divisions are fighting alongside the forces of Assad, and Hizbullah  is also supporting the regime," SFA Gen. Hussam Awac, a former sension general with said.

      Awac, a former senior officer in Syria's Air Force Intelligence, said the Iranian forces were being hosted in Syria by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

      An "Iranian armored brigade is stationed Ahmed Jibril's camps near the Syrian border with Lebanon," Awac said.

      The PFLP, run by Jibril, has been accused by senior security officials in Beirut of aiding Syrian intelligence in the kidnapping of Syrian dissidents in Lebanon.

      Awac added that rebel fighters in Homs had captured several members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and "regional experts" working with the military.

      Hizbullah "units 101, 102 and 103 are operating in Syria," Awac said, adding that Unit 101 "specializes in carrying out assassinations and explosions."

      "These units are targeting our fighters in the street fighting," he explained. 

      The Syrian army  on Thursday continued its ground offensive in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, after four weeks of continuous shelling that killed hundreds. At least 13 were killed on Thursday, according to early reports.

      SFA fighters in the city have mounted several high-risk operations to evacuate foreign journalists trapped in the besieged city of Homs.

      At least 17 SFA fighters were killed aiding British journalist Paul Controy in escaping Syria on Tuesday.

      A simultaneous attempt to spirit French journalist Edith Bouvier to Lebanon was aborted at her own request when SFA fighters reportedly learned of a plot to "use her as a bargaining chip with the French government."

      Spanish reporter Javier Espinosa was also smuggled to Lebanon by the SFA on Wednesday.

      Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has mounted a brutal crackdown on anti-regime protesters in his country for over a year. UN Human Rights officials say the civilian death toll in Syria has exceeded 7,300.