(Reuters) — Iran is providing a broad array of assistance to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to help him suppress anti-government protests, from high-tech surveillance technology to guns and ammunition, U.S. and European security officials say.
Tehran’s technical assistance to Assad’s security forces includes electronic surveillance systems, technology designed to disrupt efforts by protesters to communicate via social media, and Iranian-made drone aircraft for overhead surveillance, the officials said. They discussed intelligence matters on condition of anonymity.
Iran has also provided lethal materiel that can be used for riot control, they said.
During the protests that followed Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election — the biggest mass protests since the Islamic Republic’s founding in 1979 — Iranian authorities disrupted social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as cell phone networks.
Iran’s internal crackdown reportedly has escalated since then.
A European official said that the Iranians were providing Syrian security agencies with hardware and software that would help them disrupt efforts to organize protests inside Syria and efforts by anti-government elements to spread their message to supporters outside the country.
Officials said that Syria had also obtained some surveillance technology from European suppliers.