This from Reuters today:
“The vanguard of Iranian ground forces began arriving in Syria: soldiers and officers specifically to participate in this battle. They are not advisors … we mean hundreds with equipment and weapons. They will be followed by more,” the second source said. Iraqis would also take part in the operation, the source said.
Thus far, direct Iranian military support for Assad has come mostly in the form of military advisors. Iran has also mobilized Shi’ite militia fighters, including Iraqis and some Afghans, to fight alongside Syrian government forces.
Include the news that Russian warplanes are actively bombing AQ sites near Homs, plus Putin’s call up of 150,000 conscripts, means that we could very well be witnessing a repeat of the Second Chechen War.