Wooing tribes and offering financial incentives | Pro-Iranian militias recruit over 700 people in al-Qamishli and al-Hasakeh, and Russians try to counter Iranian expansion in the area • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Wooing tribes and offering financial incentives | Pro-Iranian militias recruit over 700 people in al-Qamishli and al-Hasakeh, and Russians try to counter Iranian expansion in the area

The Syrian regime-held areas in both the cities of al-Hasaka and al-Qamishli are witnessing an ongoing Russian-Iranian conflict as part of the cold war between the two sides in various Syrian regions, to wrest absolute control of the territory. SOHR sources have reported that recruitment operations of young men and men by pro-Iranian militias, led by the “Fatimiyoun Brigade”, are continuing in full swing in al-Qamishli and al-Hasaka.

According to SOHR sources, the number of recruits since mid-January to date has reached 710, 315 of whom are ex-NDF fighters and commanders, while 395 are civilians and fighters of several tribes, including Al-Ubayd, Yassar, Hareeth, Bani Sab’a and Al-Sharayeen. In order to attract more people, “Liwa Fatemiyoun” offers financial incentives and relatively high monthly salaries in light of the poor living conditions. On the other hand, the new recruits undergo training in camps in Tartab Brigade in southern Al-Qamishli.

Moreover, an Iranian person called “Haj Ali” and a former commander of the “National Defence Forces” (NDF) known by his initials as “M.W.” supervise the recruitment operations in the region. It is worth noting that a large number of NDF fighters has joined “Liwa Fatemiyoun”.

Meanwhile, Russia is trying to compete with Iranians for influence in the region by attracting tribesmen to counter Iranian influence and weaken SDF.

On February 10, reliable sources informed SOHR that Russian forces meet with the elders and sheikhs of Arab tribes in the city of al-Qamishli, in coordination with the Syrian regime. The meeting was attended by the head of the tribe of Bani Sab’a and other Arab tribal sheikhs in al-Qamishli and Al-Hasakeh, and a paerson known by his initial as (A.M.) member of parliament of the regime government.

According to Syrian Observatory sources, the Russian general who chaired the meeting asked the attendees to form military forces from these tribes, directly supported by the Russian side, with the main objective of which is to counter the Iranian expansion in the region, as Iran recruited hundreds of people in al-Qamishli and al-Hasaka, in addition to weakening the SDF.

The Russian demands focused on the need to withdraw Arab tribesmen from the ranks of SDF. A recruitment centre was opened in the village of Jarmaz located in the countryside of al-Qamishli in the Syrian regime-held areas. One of the goals of the new formation will be to counter the American influence in NE region of Syria.

On February 14, SOHR sources reported that Iran continued strengthening its presence in Syrian territory, consolidating its influence in regime-controlled areas, by recruiting pro-regime militiamen and civilians into pro-Iranian militias.

SOHR sources reported that the Iranian expansion reached the cities of al-Qamishli and al-Hasakah, as the pro-Iran “Liwaa Fatimiyoun” recruited members of the National Defence Forces” and civilians in its militias in regime-controlled areas, in return for monthly salaries of about 350,000 Syrian pounds each.

The militia started recruitment operations in the area at a time when regime-controlled areas were besieged by “Asayish” in mid-January. Meanwhile, the militia recruited more than 205 NDF members and some 35 civilians.

The new recruits were transferred to “Tartab Regiment” south of al-Qamishli in order to undergo training courses and then they would be transferred to west Euphrates region.

It is worth noting that each NDF members had received an estimated 50,000 Syrian pounds from regime forces as a monthly salary, which means that the new salary would be about six times higher, as a part of the financial incentives offered by Iran in return for the recruitment of adult men and young males, especially in light of the recent poor living conditions.

Syrian Observatory sources added that these recruitment operations were met with resentment by the Russian side, as Iran competed with the Russians for influence in al-Qamishli and al-Hasakah.

Moreover, the NDF command appointed, two days earlier, a member of the People’s Assembly known by his initials as H.A. as commander of National Defence Forces in al-Hasakah province, after a significant decline in the numbers of NDF members. It is worth noting that the NDF members in al-Qamishli and al-Hasakah were about 800, of whom only 300 remained after hundreds of them left the militia and joined Asayish Forces and “Liwaa Fatimiyoun”.

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