The human rights groups who keep track of the body count in Syria have been saying for months that Iranian troops - as well as Hezb'allah fighters - have been assisting President Assad in his crackdown. Those charges have now been confirmed as Iran has admitted that some of its troops are fighting in Syria.
Iran confirmed Sunday that it has, as previously speculated, sent troops to aid President Bashar Assad's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in his country.
The United Nations and human rights groups estimate that over 13,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011 - 9,200 of them civilians.
"If the Islamic Republic was not present in Syria, the massacre of civilians would have been twice as bad," General Ismail Qa'ani, deputy-commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Qods Force, told Tehran's ISNA news agency.
Iran, he added, "Had physically and non-physically stopped the rebels from killing many more among the Syrian people."
This was a rare admission by an Iranian official that Tehran was truly aiding the Damascus regime.
The quote was later removed from ISNA's website.
Sunday's statement was particularly strident, as it followed the brutal killing of 92 people, including 32 children, in Houla, in the embattled province of Homs, by Damascus' forces.
The carnage was strongly condemned by the United Nations, the United States, Britain, Germany and France; and the Arab League called for an emergency session of the UN Security Council.
On the cynicism scale, that rates at about a 10 out of 10. Even UN monitors have confirmed that it is the Syrian army that is shelling and shooting civilians. For Iran to claim their soliders are saving lives is the height of hypocrisy.
What the Iranian troops are doing there isn't much of a mystery either. They have been reported directing fire by Syrian troops at civilians and killing any soldiers who refuse to fire on the unarmed protestors. Given their experience with their own protestors, no doubt Assad is grateful for their expertise.