Russian military vehicles are seen in eastern Ghouta near Douma, in Damascus, Syria April 23, 2018. (REUTERS)

April 19, 2019

The “cold war” between Russia and Iran in the Syrian regime area continues as military operations against opposition factions receded, after the restoration of Damascus Ghouta and Syrian southern, according to a report.

In a recent report, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) indicated that the conflict between Russia and Iran and their affiliated forces continue on Syrian territory, however, the influence is now more within the power of the Iranian side despite the main Russian presence within command headquarters and often controlling the Syrian decision.

Iran has managed to expand its influence through the increase of its presence in the Syrian territory since the start of the Syrian revolution. Tehran also succeeded in attracting thousands of Syrians to its ranks not only through financial incentives, but also through doctrines and religion.

In addition, young men at the age of compulsory military service also joined Iran’s ranks, all of which made the Iranians set themselves as the actual ruler over vast areas under the control of the Syrian regime, according to the Observatory.

Meanwhile, Russia is trying to curb Iran’s influence through coalitions with Turkey, last of which the Russian-Iranian disagreement over Tal Rifaat area. Moscow promised Ankara to hand over Tal Rifaat in return for opening the international highways of Damascus – Aleppo and Aleppo – Latakia, which Iran refuses given that towns of Nubl and al-Zahraa are there and they have religious significance.

Amid this, the report noted that the Syrian regime remains powerless, and everybody knows that it cannot impose influence on any area in Syria.

Earlier, SOHR published that conflicts over Syrian influence in the country continue with forces trying to expand within Syria in various ways including political, military, and economical means.

This comes at a time when the international parties claim peaceful solutions could be attained, while the same forces are expanding their control inside Syria

The Observatory monitored an increase in the number of volunteers among Iranian forces and their affiliated militias to reach about 1,385 people, within the west Euphrates area in Deir Ezzor countryside, while the number of volunteers in southern Syria rose to more than 2470 volunteers.

Iranian expansion process continues within Syria, starting from the west of Euphrates River to the south of Syria and the occupied Golan Heights, while Israeli warplanes carry out airstrikes and raids on the Syrian territory.

The report recently published indicated that Israeli escalation has been ongoing for a complete year since early April 2018, where the Observatory continues to record the Israeli missile strikes and air raids targeting Iranian and other sites belong to militias operating under its command as well as Lebanese Hezbollah sites.

The Observatory monitored a large number of casualties among Iranian forces and its affiliated militias during the various strikes and documented in about a year of Israeli escalation over 146 deaths of Iranian and affiliated forces, which targeted their sites, warehouses, and missiles in several areas in the northern, central, and southern Syria.

According to the Observatory, about 58 members of the regime forces and the militiamen loyal to them were killed since April 2018.

The report also documented thousands of militants of various nationalities since the beginning of the Syrian revolution, with at least 8,109 members of the non-Syrians mostly from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and their militias of Afghans, Iraqis, and Asians, in addition to 1,677 members of the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Asharq Al-Awsat

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.