Iranian occupation of eastern Syria starting with al-Bukamal

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IRGC – Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

IRGC – Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

The Syrian army succeeded in recapturing al-Bukamal, a city of the Euphrates River in the Deir ez-Zor province, and its countryside, at the end of 2017, with backing from the Iranian army. The city was captured by the Islamic State Group in 2014.

Cooperation between Iran and Syria started in March 2011 when the Syrian civil war erupted. Iran offered political, military, financial, and diplomatic support to the regime of Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad.

Iran just wanted to keep its military in Syrian cities with the aim of increasing the influence of its mullahs in the Syria state. Iran sent troops of the Revolutionary Guard Corpse and its militias in Iraq and Lebanon to fight side by side with the Syrian army. Iranian troop presence increased after 2014, especially with the aim of fighting the Islamic State group.

Iran has been increasing its military buildup inside al-Bukamal since the defeat of the Islamic State group in it.

This city is more of a military corridor between Syria and Iraq than a simple Syrian city. Control of the city gives Iran freedom of movement in the area.

Revolutionary Guard units have recently controlled three Syrian army points on the Euphrates River in the city.

Iran has been working to be in control of a land corridor connecting it with Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. On January 20, Iran opened a new military base in the countryside of al-Bukamal. It deployed 120 troops of the Revolutionary Guard Corpse in it.

The location of the new base gives its officers the chance to follow movement in all Syrian villages in the city closely.

Strategic importance

The late commander of the Iranian Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, visited al-Bukamal in July of 2019. During the visit, Soleimani met the commanders of Shia militias in the city. He agreed with them on the launch of a new unit whose job would be to establish new Shia shrines in the city and defend shrines already existent.

The al-Bukamal corridor also helps Iran bring in Shia fighters from neighboring Iraq. On March 4, new groups of Iraqi Shia fighters arrived in Syria in order to prop up Iranian troops fighting in the northern Syrian city of Idlib.

Ramifications

Iranian affairs specialist, Osama al-Hatimi, refers to armed clashes between the Syrian army, on one hand, and the Iranian militias, on the other, in the past months and years.

He cited the example of clashes between the two sides in mid-2019 for the control of the eastern Syrian city of al-Mayadin.

“Clashes between the two sides come within the framework of the desire of each of them to increase its influence at the expense of the other,” al-Hatimi said. “The Syrian army is getting the impression that it is being sidelined by Iran,” he told The Reference.

Source » theportal-center

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