A Russian soldier stands in front of a mosque in Deraa, Syria. (Reuters)

February 17, 2022

A cold war broke out between Russia and Iran to win the loyalty of the “seven villages” east of the Euphrates, an area mainly controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the “cold war” between Russia and Iran, the main allies of the regime, is still ongoing across Syria.

The Observatory explained that each ally is trying “to spare no effort to win the war and impose complete control over Syria.”

It indicated that the competition between the two allies has recently intensified in the countryside of Deir Ezzor province, specifically in what is known as the “seven villages,” controlled by Iran and the regime, east of Euphrates, and other areas, west of Euphrates.

SOHR confirmed the intensity of the “cold war” escalated since mid-January, specifically on January 16, when the Iranian-backed militias opened a bridge linking the seven villages east of Euphrates to their areas under their control west of Euphrates.

Residents in the areas used to travel between the two banks of Euphrates via “Russian passenger ferry” for free.

The bridge angered the Russians, who stepped up their presence in those areas and exerted efforts to attract the residents by distributing clothes bearing Russian and internationally recognized Syrian flags to students and winter clothes to the people.

Iranian-backed militias, in turn, began distributing foodstuffs to the residents in the seven villages, namely, Hatlah, Murat, Mazloum, Khasham, Tal-Tabiyah, al-Salihiyah, and al-Husseinieh.

Iranian-backed militias also recruited persons from the area to help them to attract more people.

At the end of last month, the Observatory reported that Russian forces had entered seven villages east of Euphrates and distributed clothing and humanitarian aid to the people.

The mayor of Hatlah accompanied the forces as part of an attempt by the Russians to prevent the ongoing Iranian expansion in Syrian territory.

Asharq Al-Awsat

About Track Persia

Track 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.