Iran is aiding Syria in its suppression of pro-democracy demonstrators by providing equipment to put down protests and monitor opposition groups, the Wall Street Journal said Thursday, citing US officials.
Tehran has already begun providing crowd control equipment to Syrian authorities, and more deliveries are expected, said unnamed officials in President Barack Obama's administration, reported the Journal.
Based on intercepted communications among Iranian officials, officials said the assessment also showed Tehran is seeking to aid Shiite groups in Bahrain and Yemen and destabilize US allies in those countries, the Journal said.
"We believe that Iran is materially assisting the Syrian government in its efforts to suppress their own people," officials said, adding that Tehran is sharing "lessons learned" from the 2009 post-election crackdown on demonstrations that sought the ouster of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iranian authorities are also providing Damascus technical assistance to monitor online communication from opposition groups to organize protests, US defense officials told the Journal.
Widespread protests have shaken Syria in the last four weeks, with demonstrations reported in its second city Aleppo on Thursday following a weekend of confrontation between security forces and activists during which 30 civilians were killed, according to rights activists.
Meanwhile, reports are emerging of a document written by key elements in the Syrian regime which instructs security forces how to handle anti-government protests. The paper recommends linking the protestors with Syria's enemies like Israel and the US and not killing more than 20 demonstrators at a time.
The paper was reportedly meant to be discussed during a special meeting of Syrian security forces in the purpose of avoiding mistakes made by authorities in Egypt and Tunisia.
Roee Nahmias contributed to this report
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