Iran may seek to conduct or encourage limited, deniable attacks against US forces in response to perceived support to strikes on regional Iranian-affiliated targets, and to pressure the withdrawal of US forces from Syria, according to the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

The DIA’s findings were cited in the quarterly report of the inspector general of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), which covers events from late 2020.

The DIA reported that “Russia continued to conduct strikes against ISIS across Syria this quarter in support of the Syrian regime’s counterterrorism efforts.”

It said Iran has continued to maintain a presence in former ISIS territory in eastern Syria in part to protect its logistics routes and also to degrade ISIS’s operational capabilities.

“As the ISIS threat diminishes in Syria, Iran is prioritizing other goals, including pushing the United States out of the region and cementing its influence in the country,” the DIA added.

According to the report, although Iranian leaders were wary of escalating tensions with the United States before the US presidential transition, Iran likely continues to develop plans for operations against American positions across the region, including in Syria.

The DIA assessed that Iranian-affiliated forces probably retain the ability to attack US interests and partners in Syria with little warning.

It noted that Tehran has attempted to recruit local Syrians to collect intelligence on US and Coalition forces in Syria, and could attempt to leverage these individuals to conduct attacks on its behalf.

Meanwhile, there are indications that Iran increased its recruiting of local men in eastern Deir Ezzor province to increase the number of foreign fightes it has deployed to Syria in support of the regime.

In particular, Iran appears to be recruiting eastern Syrian men into the so-called “Baqir Brigade,” or Liwa al-Baqir, a Syrian militia which independent analysts believe Iran had founded in the early years of the Syrian conflict.

Other analysts have noted the militia’s recruitment of tribal fighters from Hasakah and Aleppo, expanding the group’s influence into the two provinces.

Source » theportal-center