DAMASCUS, Syria, May 28 (UPI) -- Anti-government Syrian protesters are being captured based on information from their Facebook and Twitter accounts, U.S. intelligence officials said.
As unrest and protests were mounting in early March, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad banned the online networking sites, but abruptly lifted the ban later in the month.
That coincides with the arrival of surveillance software from Iran that enabled the government to track down dissidents through their online accounts, The Washington Post reported.
Iran has long been a supporter of Assad and is known to have shipped weapons from Tehran to Damascus, U.S. officials said.
Lately however, intelligence officials say Iran has also been sending highly-trained military specialists from its elite Quds force to train Syrian forces in anti-insurgency techniques, the Post said.
U.S. analysts claim the Quds force has also helped train rebels in Iraq, Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.
Rights groups have said since the rebellion began, more than 800 people have been killed and as many as 10,000 people have imprisoned.