In an attempt to strengthen its military influence in western Syria, Iran has established subsidiary military battalions in central Syria, specifically in the province of Hama.
Activists reported to Al Jazeera Net that the Iranian forces have formed six battalions stationed at the headquarters of the 47th Brigade (Tank Division) which is located between Homs and Hama, in addition to the 45th Brigade Commando Unit in Ethraiya in the northern countryside of Hama.
Abu Yaman al-Hamwi, an activist, said that two battalions are stationed in Ethraiya, and two others led by Hezbollah guard the road to the city of Homs. There is also a battalion in as-Salamiyah in the countryside of Hama, and another one within the 47th Brigade.
According to Hamwi, the task of these battalions is to “fortify the defense of Hama and Homs to repel any possible progress of the opposition forces towards the two cities, especially after the significant progress achieved recently by the Army of Conquest (Jaish Al-Fatah) in the al-Ghab plain, approaching many pro-regime villages".
While the leader in Ajnad al-Sham, Abulmajd, said that Iran has tried to control the central region to “draw the borders of the planned Alawite state, as the course of the battles on the ground suggests that they are trying to draw the areas that will be under the regime's control: I mean Damascus, Lattakia, Homs, and Hama. They are trying to consolidate full control over these areas because they are on the borders of the conceived state that they intend to establish.”
Sources from within the region added that the regime provided considerable support to those battalions, including permission to enter the ranks of Assad’s forces, high salaries and other financial rewards, prompting many members of the regime forces to join the Iranian battalions.