Iran Controls Syria's Shia Militias

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Phillip Smyth - Shia make up 1-2% of Syria's population, but militias manned or controlled by Shia have played a disproportionate role in the Syrian conflict. Domestic Shia groups currently number 8,000-12,000 fighters. Iran has steadily reinforced them with foreign Shia fighters, including Hizbullah members and militias from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. These foreigners now number 20,000-30,000. In 2013, Tehran set about constructing Syrian copies of Hizbullah. These Shia groups often take their orders directly from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hizbullah. Iranian influence on the ground in Syria is rapidly outstripping that of the Assad regime and Russia. As a result, the forces gaining ascendancy in regime-controlled areas will be more prone to supporting Tehran's foreign policy agenda. This agenda may include fighting U.S. forces in southern and eastern Syria or attacking Israel via the Golan.

2018-04-13 00:00:00

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