Iran denies troops deployed in Syria

Syrian forces are planning to recapture lost territory in Hama and Idlib provinces (AFP Photo/Louai Beshara)

Tehran (AFP) - Iran on Wednesday insisted it has not deployed troops in Syria to strengthen regime forces, denying reports that thousands of foreign fighters have been flown in to help defend Damascus.

Reports on "the military presence of countries friendly to Syria" are "unfounded", foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said at her weekly press briefing.

"The Syrian government and people have the capacity to resist and will continue to do so", said Afkham, whose country provides Damascus with political and financial support as well as military advisers for the armed forces.

Tehran has always denied having troops on the ground in Syria's four-year-old conflict.

On June 3, a Syrian security source told AFP that thousands of Iranian and Iraqi fighters have been deployed in Syria to bolster the defences of Damascus and its surroundings.

"Around 7,000 Iranian and Iraqi fighters have arrived in Syria over the past few weeks and their first priority is the defence of the capital. The larger contingent is Iraqi," the source said on condition of anonymity.

"The goal is to reach 10,000 men to support the Syrian army and pro-government militias," he added.