Members of the opposition Syrian National Council said they had reliable intelligence that Qassem Suleimani was intimately involved with President Bashar al-Assad and his ruling coterie.

“It is his second visit at least,” said Radwan Ziahdeh, an executive member of the council. “The Quds force is working mainly with training, helping militias and snipers.”…

Western and Arab experts and diplomats estimate that the number of troops and advisers from the Quds force in Syria to be in the high hundreds or low thousands. They have set up at least one base in Zabadani near the capital Damascus.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are deeply concerned by credible information that Iran is providing equipment and technical advice to help the Syrian regime quash protests in Syria. Such support is unacceptable.”