Syria is bringing in snipers from Iran and Lebanon to help crush a resistance movement that continues to threaten President Bashar al-Assad’s violent regime, reports The Times (via The Australian).
Mahmoud Haj Hamad, a senior Syrian government defector, told the newspaper that state security forces were importing the trained marksmen as “military consultants” to murder anti-government protestors, after the sharp-shooters successfully suppressed uprisings in their own countries.
Hamad, who fled Syria’s treasury department last month, said the reinforcements were being paid through a slush fund that is being topped up with U.S. dollars flown in from Iran — the same stash that state forces use to pay the violent Shabiha gangs that terrorize Syria’s streets.
The news comes after two days of fighting in Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, left more than 50 people dead and scores more wounded, according to Associated Press (via CBS). The city reportedly suffered a big jump in sectarian kidnappings and slayings, as Assad loyalists fired at residential buildings with guns and mortars.
Fighting has become so lethal that the U.N. has stopped updating its death toll from Syria’s crackdown, which was last estimated to have cost more 5400 lives, France 24 reports.
But Hamad said Syria can’t afford to keep the “thousands” of foreign fighters on its payroll, who each earn at least $100 a day.
“The Syrian economy has collapsed – it won’t last another month,” he told the Times. “In February, I believe it will fall apart. Iran can’t keep giving them money, because their own finances are not that good.”