Russia started to establish a military unit consisting of local elements in Syria’s northeastern Hassakeh province, according to local sources.
Russia has been strengthening its military presence in Hassakeh, a move that caused tension between the Bashar al-Assad regime forces and the YPG group that started on Dec. 28, 2020, and turned into a mutual blockade in January.
While the People’s Protection Units (YPG) continue to occupy parts of the Hassakeh province, areas including the Kawkab mountains, the Security Square, and the 156th Brigade Facility remain under regime control.
The Russian army, which has deployed around 1,000 soldiers in the Hassakeh province since Dec. 25, 2020, now started to establish a military unit under its command consisting of local elements under the control of the Assad regime, the sources said.
At the first stage, some 200 people were registered to the unit, while the registration process continues.
According to the sources, those who join the “Defense Officers” unit will be given a monthly salary of 300 dollars.
In December 2019, Russia attempted to establish a military unit consisting of local elements in the YPG/PKK-occupied areas in Hassakeh to protect its military points in the region, but the Russian attempt was blocked by the US in April 2020.
Assad regime arming Shabiha militia
Regime forces, whose freedom of movement was restricted in the Hassakeh province by the recent deal, are relying on the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah to maintain their place in the power equation in the region.
Hezbollah dispatched 200 militants to Qamishli Airport in Hassakeh two weeks ago. However, the militants were soon evacuated from the airport by the Russian forces.
The regime has been arming local militias popularly known as “Shabiha,” while the Hezbollah group started to provide military training to them.
Russian presence in the region
Russian forces have settled in some military bases where US troops withdrew from after Turkey launched its anti-terror offensive Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9, 2019, against the YPG/PKK terrorist organization in northern Syria.
Since then, Russia has strengthened its presence in the areas under the YPG/PKK occupation east of the Euphrates river by increasing the number of its military bases and outposts.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.