Commemorating death of Qassem Soleimani | Iran-backed militia hold military parade in south Damascus • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Commemorating death of Qassem Soleimani | Iran-backed militia hold military parade in south Damascus

While the second anniversary of Qassem Soleimani’s death is approaching, SOHR activists documented that Iran’s loyal militias, which were established by Soleimani in Syria, have held a military parade and toured Al-Sayeda Zeinab area and its countryside in the south of Damascus.

The Iranian militiamen have marched a big envoy of Syrian and non-Syrian militiamen on military vehicles. The raised photos for Bashar Al-Assad, the top of the Syrian regime, and Qassem Soleiman and banners read “We are all Qassem”. They also chanted anti-US and Israel slogans.

On December 1, a huge batch of the families of Iran-backed Afghan militias 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 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 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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