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A former commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has defected to Azerbaijan and disclosed that Iran’s military is infused with pro-U.S. sentiment.

Col. Bakharali Bagiryan arrived in Baku last week.

“I came to Azerbaijan 40 days ago and was registered with the Azerbaijani representative office of the UNHCR as a political ?migr?,” Bagiryan said at the Baku Press Club Feb. 23.

Bagiryan said many Iranian military troops would like to defect.

“In Iran, the military are not issued with passports, which deprives them of the opportunity to leave the country legally,” he said. “I have been sent to Azerbaijan in the capacity of a representative of those who want cardinal changes in Iran’s state structure.”

The IRGC are Islamic shock troops and are Teheran’s key liaison with international terrorist groups, such as Lebanese Hezbollah.

Bagiryan said some 40 percent of servicemen in the Iranian army think as he does and are “waiting for the arrival of America in Iran.”

“The strengthening of the U.S. position in the region causes optimism among many Iranian servicemen and they secretly support the operation in Iraq,” the colonel said. “I think that many of them would back a similar U.S. operation in Iran.”

Bagiryan said Teheran’s claim that the Iranian army fully supports the government is groundless. He said he intended to stay in Azerbaijan and help those fighting for the national interests of southern Azerbaijan.

His remarks appeared in the Baku newspaper Turan, an independent, non-governmental news agency close to the People’s Front of Azerbaijan.

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