Masked members of the Basij militia march during a military parade to mark Basij week in front of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran. REUTERS/FILE PHOTO./

By Kayhan Life Staff

Iran-backed militias have filled the vacuum created after Russian troops and local paramilitary units under their control withdrew from several strategic regions in Syria, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.

The militias, operating under the auspices of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), are equipped with various military weapons and vehicles suitable for warfare. They include armored personnel carriers (APC) capable of carrying 40 people, 20-person APCs armed with DSHK machine guns, APCs transporting Hezbollah fighters, and weapons and ammunition depots in Mheen military base, in Homs Governorate, in central Syria, the report added.

According to Asharq Al-Awsat, the movement of troops followed the withdrawal of Russian Special forces, known as the Wagner Group, and their logistical facilities from Syria.

ANALYSIS: Iran’s Militia Networks in the Middle East and Africa

The Wagner Group is a Russian paramilitary organization believed to consist of mercenaries who allegedly operate as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s private army.

Several Russian helicopters were flown out of the Mheen military base and re-stationed in Tadmur Airbase in the east of Homs Governorate, the report by Asharq Al-Awsat said.

Iran-backed forces, Hezbollah, and the Syrian 4th Army are now in complete control of the weapons depots in this region after the withdrawal of Russian troops.

Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz recently said that the Israeli military had attacked Iran-backed forces in Syria.

Mr. Gantz’s remakes follow the recent massive troop movement and relocation of military bases by Iran-backed forces and militias under the control of the IRGC’s Qods Force (IRGC-QF) in recent days in Syria.

Some military observers believe the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria directly results from the war in Ukraine. The move has worried the Islamic Republic, which fears Israel may intensify its attacks on the Iran-backed militia’s positions in Syria.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Lebanese Hezbollah recently built a secret prison near a clinic west of Tadmur (Palmyra) in Syria. Barbed wire surrounds the prison compound, the report added.

Some 25 Afghan mercenary fighters embedded with the IRGC-QF recently moved their families from Tadmur to a new location 40 kilometers east of that city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Iran-backed militias reportedly set up training camps 40 kilometers east of Tadmur. These camps consist of a weapon and ammunition depot, rooms in the basement, and dormitories. IRGC units reportedly train the militia members at this facility.

“The Islamic Republic regime aims to change the fabric of Syrian society by exploiting disadvantaged men and women, luring them with money,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Link to the Farsi page

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