Iran and Its Proxies Build Up Strength in Northeast Syria

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Oula A. Alrifai - According to Syrian anti-regime activists, Iran and its proxies currently control at least seven towns on the east side of the Euphrates River in Syria's Deir al-Zour province. This includes full military authority and executive administration exerted by nearly 4,500 armed personnel, some from Iran's IRGC, others from Shia militias such as the Baqir Brigade, Fatemiyoun Brigade, al-Hashd al-Shabi, and the various groups that call themselves "Syrian Hizbullah." Iran is building two new military bases in the area: one in the suburbs of Mayadin, and a larger one in al-Bukamal called "Imam Ali." Although the Shia militias in Deir al-Zour include Afghan and Pakistani factions, Iraq's al-Hashd al-Shabi serves as Iran's main financial conduit in the province, particularly in al-Bukamal. Local Syrian recruits are paid directly by the IRGC, whose financial incentives are attracting unemployed, impoverished Syrian men as well as foreign fighters. The writer is a fellow in The Washington Institute's Geduld Program on Arab Politics.

2019-10-17 00:00:00

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