Strengthen Iranian presence | 300 Afghan families of Iranian proxies arrive in Palmyra and Rif Dimashq via Iraq • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Strengthen Iranian presence | 300 Afghan families of Iranian proxies arrive in Palmyra and Rif Dimashq via Iraq

A huge batch of the families of Iran-backed Afghan militias have arrived in Palmyra, east of Homs, and Al- Sayyida Zainab area southern Rif Dimashq, SOHR sources said.

According to Syrian Observatory activists, since the beginning of November 2021, 300 families of Afghan militias arrived, in consecutive batches, in Syrian territory, from Iran via Iraq.

Afghan families entered Syria, in several stages, via border crossings under the control of Iranian backed militias in Al- BoKamal in Deir Ezzor countryside, some families headed to Palmyra in the eastern countryside of Homs, and other families went to Al-Sayyida Zainab area in Rif Dimashq, after staying in Palmyra for several days.

Syrian Observatory sources have confirmed that the Afghan families who arrived in Syrian territory during December headed to Iran after Taliban captured Afghanistan and then headed to Iraq before entering Syrian territory.

It is worth noting that all these families have relatives and sons who serve as members and commanders under the banner of Iran in Syrian territory.

On December 21, SOHR activists monitored the arrival of families of Iran-backed Afghani militias, who lived in Palmyra city and its surroundings east of Homs, on 15 buses to Sayyida Zainab area, south of the capital, Damascus, during the past two days.

According to Syrian Observatory activists, the families were accompanied by military vehicles of Iranian-backed militias to protect them and secure their arrival to Sayyida Zainab area.

On December 19, SOHR sources reported that pro-Iranian militias stationed in Palmyra and its surroundings east of Homs Province redeployed and fortified their positions for fear of being targeted.
The militias have been stationed in the following sites:

Jabal Owaimer near Al-Amiriya village in the northeast of Palmyra. The remains of hundreds of people who were killed in Palmyra prison had been buried under that mountain since 1980s. It is worth noting that the mountain contains warehouses for fuel and weapons.

The new branch building on Palmyra-Deir Ezzor highway.

Those sites were fortified with soil barriers.

On December 1, Reliable sources told the Syrian Observatory that construction of several buildings was proceeding in Al-Bahdaliyah area in Babilla district in southern Rif Dimashq, neighbouring Sayeda Zeinab area which is a prominent stronghold of Iranian-backed Syrian and non-Syrian militiamen, particularly of the Lebanese Hezbollah, in the suburbs of the capital, Damascus.

With most of Al-Bahdaliyah area’s inhabitants being commanders and members of Iranian-backed militias, the name “Sayeda Zeinab District” has become familiar and used by them instead of the area’s real name.
Also, there were reports of reorganization of the town, which was captured by the Iranians in June 2013, after violent battles with the rebel and jihaid factions.

Moreover, hundreds of the Iranian-backed militiamen and commanders moved to “Qabr Al-Sitt” camp (the camp of Sayeda Zeinab Shrine) neighbouring Sayeda Zeinab area in the south of Damascus.

It is worth noting that the name of the area hosting this camp was changed by Rif Dimashq governorate in 2020 into “Sayeda Zeinab city”.

Furthermore, training camps were established in the farms and orchards around Sayeda Zeinab area, “Qabr Al-Sitt” camp and Al-Bahdaliyah area for the Iranian-backed militiamen and new recruits.

It seemed that Iran seeks for turning the area from southern Rif Dimashq to the perimeter of Damascus international airport into a new “colony” in Syria to be controlled and dominated by local and non-local militiamen, including Iraqi, Afghani and Lebanese militias.

The Iranians are also working, in the long run, on imposing a security siege on Sayeda Zeinab area by encircling the area with families of Iranian-backed commanders and militiamen through facilitating construction of houses in Al-Bahdaliyah area and housing these families in “Qabr Al-Sitt” camp. In addition, the Iranians were planned to be deployed in headquarters and camps in the area from Sayeda Zeinab area to the perimeter of Damascus international airport, along with the ongoing secret purchases of real estate and farmlands in eastern Ghouta, which hosted a large number of regime oppositionists and was a major stronghold of opposition factions, as well as purchases of other units in towns and cities of Rif Dimashq, neighboring Sayeda Zeinab area.

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