From Honestreporting.com, Feb. 18, 2014
US Treasury documents clearly say the Iranian ayatollahs are backing Assad and Al-Qaida. (I did a double take too.) The Washington Post picked up on the story, but Majid Rafizadeh explains more clearly:
Several reports indicated that Assad, in fact, released many Al-Qaeda members from prison, with Iran assisting their network, in order to buttress the argument that the Assad regime was being attacked by Al-Qaeda. Reportedly, the Al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS have even been selling oil to the Assad regime in exchange for money and recruits with the assistance of Tehran.
In addition, the Islamic Republic can use Al-Qaeda’s Iran-based network to thwart US foreign policy objectives in the region and tip the regional balance of power in favor of Iran and against other regional powers such as Israel.
Iran is also looking for alternatives in case Assad’s apparatuses collapse in Syria. In other words, the Islamic Republic will support its ally as long as Assad can retain his power.