Iranian militias and Hezbollah redeploy their troops in southern Syria
Enab Baladi – Al-Qunaytirah
In recent days, there have been reports of withdrawal or downsizing of the Iranian militias and Lebanese “Hezbollah” militia in Syria, mainly in the south region. However, facts on the ground show otherwise, they indicate that Iran’s recent military movements are part of its tactic to diminish the effectiveness of Israeli strikes on military positions.
These movements also point out that Iran’s military leadership in Syria is redeploying and repositioning its troops, reflecting its determination to remain and to consolidate its military presence.
In an interview with Enab Baladi on 15 May, the media activist Nour al-Rifai, who is a close observer of events taking place in southern Syria, said that the last days witnessed the patrolling of a number of Syrian regime officers accompanied by commanders of Hezbollah in Daraa and al-Qunaytirah provinces, especially at the border regions.
He added that those patrols are clear evidence that officers were closely monitoring the front lines with Israel.
On 5 May, the Israeli news website “i24” reported from sources described by the website as “high-level security sources,” saying that Iran began withdrawing from Syria due to Israeli pressure. The sources indicated that this is the first time Iran has reduced its forces and emptied its bases in Syria since its intervention in the area.
Expansion of military bases and border monitoring
The news about Iran’s withdrawal from Syria is contrary to its movements on the ground, as new satellite photos revealed that Iran has been expanding its bases and deploying air defense systems there.
The “ImageSAt International“, satellite- imagery and data analysis website, published on 13 May photos showing expansion work at the “Imam Ali” military base of Iranian militias in al-Bukamal city.
According to the website, Iran is building new tunnels in the base, indicating that these tunnels are used to store weapons.
A day after the publication of this information about the al-Bukamal base, journalist Gareth Browne, who works for the British newspaper The Telegraph and Foreign Policy news magazine, published photographs taken by the mobile phone of a fighter in the pro-Iranian Iraqi militias. The images illustrated Iran’s deployment of missiles and radar near its militias’ headquarters in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport.
In addition to these measures, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) published a video recording, on 10 April, showing the presence of military leaders from the Syrian regime and the Lebanese Hezbollah in the Syrian part of the occupied Golan Heights.
The video, published by the IDF Spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, showed the commander of the “First Corps” of the Syrian regime’s forces, Major General Ali Ahmad Asaad, accompanied by the head of Hezbollah’s southern command, al-Hajj Hashem.
Adraee said that Assad, along with Hashem, made a tour that included moving between observation sites known to be used by “Hezbollah.”
“Hezbollah aims to be positioned in Syria in general and in the Syrian side of the Golan Heights in particular, to create a terrorist entity against the state of Israel with the cooperation and auspices of the Syrian regime,” Adraee said.
Redeployment and consolidation of military presence
Media activist Taim al-Ahmad confirmed to Enab Baladi that news about an Iranian withdrawal from Syria is inaccurate. He indicated that what is going on in the Syrian south is that Iran is repositioning and redeploying its troops and military bases rather than retreating.
The activist told Enab Baladi that Iranian agendas aiming at spreading the Shiite doctrine and the weaving of local networks in Daraa and al-Qunaytirah are almost complete.
As monitored by Enab Baladi, al-Qunaytirah, the province neighboring the Golan border, has not witnessed a clear withdrawal of Iranian militias, as well as of Iranian-backed militias, in the last week.
These militias carry out daily reconnaissance and surveillance operations directed at the Syrian regime’s positioning points, which are a few meters away from the borders with Israel.
The Iranian military influence is centered in the destroyed city of al-Qunaytirah, al-Rufaid town, Tal al-Ahmar al-Gharbi, and al-Sharqi.
In Daraa, the media activist Abu Mahmoud al-Hourani confirmed to Enab Baladi that Iran and its affiliated militias have not withdrawn from the province and its countryside.
He said that the regime’s forces and Iranian militias are reinforcing their military positions in Daraa, especially after the new tension in the province, specifically in Izra city, and the area of the “52nd Brigade,” as well as in several areas in western Daraa countryside.
Abu Mahmoud pointed out that military reinforcements of the regime forces, including military vehicles carrying anti-aircraft and military personnel, arrived at Tal al-Khudur and al-Sheikh Saad in Daraa Countryside.
Abu Mahmoud added that the reinforcements come within the framework of repositioning the Iranians in the regime’s military units, following the last Israeli strikes.
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