Protests put spotlight on Iran’s vast and shadowy Syria war

In demonstrations across Iran, chants have been going up against the Iranian military’s involvement in Syria, one of Tehran’s closest allies and a frontline state in its confrontation with archenemy, Israel.

The protests have focused on economic issues but demonstrators have also voiced strong opposition to the government’s policy of sending young Iranians to fight and die in Syria and spending billions on the military when they say the focus should be on providing jobs in Iran and controlling the rising cost of living.

Iran’s theocratic leadership has cast the Syria involvement as a religious war for Shiite Islam, an epochal struggle to defend the shrine of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter in Damascus from Sunni jihadis, and to cripple what it says is a U.S.-Israeli conspiracy to destroy Syria.

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