As many as 2,000 Iranian and Iran-backed forces are currently in Syria helping regime troops in an offensive near Aleppo that is being coordinated with Russia, a US official said Friday.

The fighters were helping Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian air power, as they opened a new front against rebel fighters southeast of Aleppo.

“We are now seeing a coordinated effort between Iran and Russia to assist Assad with fighting opposition groups,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“There could be as many as 2,000 Iranian-enabled forces,” he added. […]