SOHR has confirmed that statements by “Aviv Kochavi” the Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces to an Israeli website in the past few hours regarding a noticeable decline in the number of Iranian troops in Syria due to the Israeli operations against them are completely false. Reliable SOHR sources have confirmed that the Iranians continue strengthening their presence throughout Syria through their proxy militias and affiliates of various nationalities, where they have imposed their influence at all levels, including the political, militarily and economic situations
The Syrian Observatory would like to point out again to the fact that Iran controls a vast geographic area which is larger than Lebanon, specifically from Al-Bokamal on the Syria-Iraq border to Al-Tabni, running through Al-Mayadeen and Deir Ezzor city. Besides Iranian forces and their proxies are deployed in overlapping areas on the administrative border with Homs province, turning that area into a “colony”. In that area, the Iranians have managed to impose ultimate influence, while the deployment of Iran forces and militias is mainly concentrated at illegal military crossings in Al-Bokamal countryside, Al-Jamiyaat neighbourhood, Al-Katif neighbourhood in Al-Bokamal city, the base of Imam Ali, the villages of al-Abbas and Al-Jala and other sites in Al-Bokamal desert, the neighbourhoods of Al-Mayadeen city and Al-Mazare’ area which hosts the largest gathering of Iranian-backed militias in the area, Al-Tiba village, al-Ashara, Al-Quriya, Mahkan, Al-Bolil, Al-Jaffra, Ayash warehouses on the outskirts of Deir Ezzor city, the neighbourhoods of Harabish, Al-Rusafa, al-Umal and the 137th Brigade in Deir Ezzor city, and other scattered locations in these areas. The Iranians are also present in Hatlah and Marad villages in east Euphrates region, while west Euphrates region hosts a large Iranian presence in residential and populated areas where military positions and weapons and ammunition depots are located.
Furthermore, Iranian forces and their proxy militias are deployed in the following provinces in Syria:
- Aleppo: the city’s neighbourhoods and the northern, eastern and southern countryside.
- Damascus: Sayeda Zeinab area, perimeter of Damascus international airport, and other areas.
- Rif Dimashq: Qalamoun, areas on the Syria-Lebanon border, and other areas.
- Homs: Homs city and western countryside.
- Idlib: areas in the eastern countryside
- South Syria region: several areas in Daraa and Al-Quneitra provinces, near the border with the Syrian Occupied Golan, and the Syrian desert from Al-Suwaidaa countryside to the eastern and south-eastern countryside of Homs and Aleppo-Hama-Al-Raqqah triangle.
According to SOHR statistics the number of Iranian-backed Syrian and non-Syrian militiamen in Syria has exceeded 58,000, and they are distributed as follows:
- West Euphrates region: Iranian forces and allied militias comprise 24,000 to 25,000 fighters, 9,000 of whom are Syrians recruited by Iran through “Shi’aism” proselytising operations and financial incentives, while the remaining 15,000 to 16,000 fighters are of Arab and Asian nationalities. It is worth noting that tens of members of the Iranian-backed militia “Al-Haj Qassem Soleimani Regiment”, which was formed a few months ago in Nebl and Al-Zahraa areas in the northern countryside of Aleppo and comprising local Shiite fighters, were seen arriving in Al-Bokamal city in early February 2021.
- South Syria region: the number of volunteers in the ranks of Iranian forces and loyal militias are estimated at 9,900. Such “Shi’aism” proselytising operations (conversion to Shiite) take place in “Saraya al-Areen” of the 313th Brigade in northern Daraa, and Shiite centres in Al-Lajat and other areas in Daraa, Al-Baath city and Khan Arnabah in Al-Quneitra countryside, near the border with the occupied Syrian Golan, and Al-Suwaidaa countryside.
- Damascus and Rif Dimashq: the number of Iranian-backed Syrian and non-Syrian militiamen exceeds 9,700 fighters who are deployed in large spaces in Damascus neighbourhoods, cities, towns and villages of Rif Dimashq, and areas near the Syria-Lebanon border.
- Aleppo: the number of Iranian-backed fighters and recruits has reached 7,750 in Nebl, Al-Zahraa town and surrounding areas in the northern countryside of Aleppo, Al-Eis, Al-Hader and surrounding areas in the southern countryside of Aleppo, Maskanah, Al-Sfirah, Deir Hafer, and other towns and villages in eastern Aleppo, and the neighbourhoods of Aleppo city, particularly the eastern neighbourhoods.
- Homs, Hama and Al-Raqqah: the number of Iranian-backed Syrian, Arab and Asian militiamen in Homs city and countryside, Hama and Al-Raqqah deserts reaches 4,350.
- Idlib: there are over 600 Iranian-backed Syrian and non-Syrian militiamen.
- Al-Hasakah, Al-Qamishli: the number of recruits have reached 650 so far, 310 of whom are NDF fighters and commanders, while the rest are civilians and fighters of several tribes, including Al-Ubayd, Yassar, Hareeth, Bani Sab’a and Al-Sharayeen. In order to attract more people, Iranian-backed militias offer financial incentives and relatively high monthly salaries in light of the poor living conditions. On the other hand, the new recruits receive drills in camps in Tartab Brigade in southern Al-Qamishli.
There are numerous military formations comprise Syrian and non-Syrian militiamen recruited by Iran in Syria by offering of financial incentives and continuous usage of religion and sectarianism, or those who have been brought from other countries as “mercenaries” to serve Iran’s interests in Syria. The most prominent of such militias are the following:
The Iraqi Hezbollah
- The Pakistani Zainabiyoun Brigade
- Abu fadl al-Abbas
- The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)
- Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades
- The 47th Brigade
- Haras Al-Qurra
- The Afghan Brigade of Fatimiyoun, which apparently became Iran’s second most powerful force in Syria after The Lebanese Hezbollah.