The Latest: Iran offers to help Syria with air defenses

The Latest on the civil war in Syria (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

Iran's air defense chief says his country is ready to help defend Syria's airspace.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency on Sunday quoted Gen. Farzad Esmaili as saying "We will help Syria in a full-fledged manner if the Syrian government requests help." He said any such aid would be provided in an "advisory" capacity.

Iran is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and has sent weapons, money and military advisers to Syria to help bolster his forces. Tehran denies it has sent combat troops, but several Iranian soldiers, including senior officers, have been killed on Syrian battlefields.

This is the first time Iran has offered to assist with Syrian air defenses.

Esmaili's remarks came after Turkey and Saudi Arabia -- leading supporters of the rebels battling to topple Assad -- said they were open to sending ground troops into Syria to battle the Islamic State group.


11:45 a.m.

Opposition activists say Turkey has shelled positions held by the main Kurdish militia in northern Syria for a second day Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group says two fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces — a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters — have been killed and seven others wounded in the shelling.

There was no immediate confirmation by the group, which is dominated by Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units known as the YPG.

The group has been on the march in the northern province of Aleppo near the Turkish border in recent days. That has alarmed Turkey, which considers the group to be an affiliate of the Kurdish PKK movement which it considers to be a terrorist organization.