Iran deployed hundreds of Iranian soldiers to northern and central Syria in an effort to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in an anti-rebel ground offensive. Arab diplomats and analysts said Wednesday that Iran has ramped up its role in the four-year civil war by deploying troops alongside allied Hezbollah fighters under the cover of Russian airstrikes. Iranian fighters began arriving two weeks ago just after Moscow launched its first airstrikes, a regional official told the AP. More Iranian troops continued to arrive Wednesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Tehran’s enhanced role underscores Russia’s military priority to prop up Assad before battling ISIS.