Iran's Shifting Posture in Syria

(Soufan Center-Cipher Brief) Since intervening in 2012 to help the Assad regime battle against a nationwide armed uprising, Iran has deployed several thousand Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) officers and units of its regular military to advise and support Assad's ground forces. Iran also facilitated the deployment to Syria of tens of thousands of fighters from Lebanese Hizbullah, fighters from several Iraqi Shia militia groups, and Afghan and Pakistani Shia militiamen. Iran has used its intervention in Syria to secure its supply routes to Hizbullah and to develop military production facilities to help Hizbullah upgrade the precision of its more than 100,000 Iran-supplied rockets and short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Israel. Israel has responded with regular bombardment of Iran-controlled installations in Syria. Iran's apparent drawdown of its military presence in Syria likely reflects Tehran's calculation that the Assad regime is secure. Iran's drawdown from Syria is likely also a function of pressure from Russia and the Assad regime itself. Russia sees Iran as an obstacle to efforts to compel Assad to reach a political settlement with the opposition and to attracting reconstruction funds - all vital to Russia's ability to wind down its own involvement in Syria. Several potential donors - particularly the Persian Gulf states - are reluctant to invest in Syria's rebuilding if Iran remains present there.

2020-06-05 00:00:00

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