By Mustafa Malih
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has described the ongoing fighting in Syria as a war between Islam and disbelief.
“The door for martyrdom, which was closed by the end of the Iranian-Iraqi war, is now open in Syria,” Khamenei was quoted by Guardian Council head Ahmad Jannati as saying during a ceremony marking the death of 46 Iranian soldiers in Syria.
“Youth have persistently called for going to the battlefield in Syria, where Islam is fighting kufr (disbelief) as was the case during the Iranian-Iraqi war,” he added, according to the official Fars news agency.
Khamenei warned that if youth failed to join the fighting in Syria, “the enemy will attack Iran.”
Iran has fought an eight-year war against Iraq in 1980.
Shia Iran is a staunch support of Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has been fighting opposition forces since 2011.
For the past five years, Iranian soldiers -- along with members of Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah group -- have been fighting alongside regime forces in Syria.
According to Iranian media reports, more than 400 Iranian soldiers have been killed in the fighting in Syria since 2011.