Iran Digs into Central Syria, Filling Vacuum Left by Russia

the spread of pro-Iranian militias and the Fourth Division coincided with the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, and the beginning of the withdrawal of Russian forces from some military sites in eastern Homs…”

Iran and its allies are fortifying their positions in the central Syrian desert.  The accompanying article from the influential Saudi daily al-Sharq al-Awsat delves into the recent repositioning of Iranian proxies and allies in central Syria.  The article cites an early 2022 deal between the Syrian military’s 4th Division and Iran, in which they agreed to establish nearly a dozen bases throughout central Syria.  These moves coincided with Russia turning its focus to Ukraine and Iran’s recent escalation with Israel, which likely added urgency to Iranian efforts to strengthen its military position in Syria.  To that end, Iran and its allies have focused on supplying and fortifying weapons depots across central Syria.  According to the report from al-Sharq al-Awsat, Iran has provided its Syrian proxies and allies with vehicles, communications devices, and anti-tank missiles.  Russia has also given Iran and its allies control of the massive weapons depot in Mheen, in the Homs desert.  Iran recently established a new militia in Syria, drawing from its various local proxy forces, in order to guard all these weapons depots.  Pro-Iranian forces in central Syria are likely to employ unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to secure their positions.  Local outlets have reported on recent drone transfers, and in late March, Iranian forces held a UAV training session for some of their Syrian proxies.  In early April, the Iranian Arabic-language news channel al-Alam aired footage showing Iran’s proxy forces in Iraq employing Iranian Shahed-129 drones against ISIS targets, suggesting Iranian proxies in Syria would be similarly capable.


“إيران توسع انتشار ميليشياتها وسلاحها في سوريا 

(Iran expands the reach of its militias and weapons in Syria),” al-Sharq al-Awsat (influential Saudi daily), 7 April 2022.

In a new Iranian military tactic aimed at extending Iran’s influence over the largest area of ​​Syrian territory, the Revolutionary Guards have recently strengthened… their presence in about 120 sites and military headquarters in the eastern countryside of Homs, Hama desert, Raqqa desert, and Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo governorates.  They have reinforced these sites with about 4,500 members of the militias loyal to them, and a number of missile launchers, heavy weapons, drones and communications devices. They recently took control of the strategic Mheen warehouses east of Homs, after expanding their influence in the Nairab military airport in Aleppo governorate, at the expense of the Russian and regime forces. They have also established training camps for Syrian volunteers to join militias loyal to Iran.

In the desert of Homs and eastern Hama, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that “an agreement was reached at the beginning of 2022. Military leaders in the Fourth Division, led by Maher al-Assad, brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, established about 11 headquarters, headed by officers and military experts from both sides, in the areas of Hasya, Palmyra, Mahin, Al-Qaryatayn, Al-Sukhnah, Al-Kum and Al-Taybeh, east of Homs, and the Salamiyah, Al-Saan, Athria and Sheikh Hilal areas, east of Hama.

… “the spread of pro-Iranian militias and the Fourth Division coincided with the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, and the beginning of the withdrawal of Russian forces from some military sites in eastern Homs. This includes their recent withdrawal from the Mheen warehouses, which were handed over to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Lebanese Hezbollah”…

On March 27, Iran moved 10 Iranian Muhajir drones from its warehouses in the city of Palmyra, east of Homs, to a camp for drones that was recently established in the al-Tabani area, southwest of Deir ez-Zor. There, they established a UAV training project, imposing a security cordon around the area.

… Syrian activists said that “the IRGC recently formed a new militia called Fajr al-Islam. It is led by Iranian officers and made up of elite elements from the Afghan Fatimiyoun Brigade, the Iraqi Harakat al-Nujaba, and Lebanese Hezbollah, in addition to groups of Alawites loyal to Iran and young Syrian Shiites.” Its mission is to guard Iranian military depots in Hama, Homs, Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, Palmyra, and Sukhnah, east of Homs


“بالفيديو..مسيرة  شاهد ١٢٩ تستهدف اوكار الدواعش في العراق

(Video… Shahed-129 drone targets ISIS hideouts in Iraq),” al-Alama (Iranian Arabic-language news channel), 9 April 2022.

Video footage emerged showing members of the Popular Mobilization Forces using the Iranian Shahed-129 drone to target the hideouts of ISIS terrorist gangs in Iraq.