Iranian militias have stepped up their expansion in northeastern Syria to find a new foothold in the Syrian desert. Their strategy has been to lure tribal elders close to the Syrian regime and offer financial inducements to young people to form tribal militias that serve Tehran’s agenda in the region.
After imposing their influence in the eastern countryside of Deir-ez-Zor, Iranian militias found a favourable opportunity to enter the cities of Qamishli and Hassakeh. The circumstances favoured this approach amidst local and international conflicts in the region — between Russia and the United States on the one hand, and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Turkey on the other.
Arabi 21 sources in Hassakeh governorate revealed that Iranian militias — led by Hajj Mahdi of Hezbollah from Lebanon — had opened several offices for the recruitment of Arab clan members, under Hezbollah’s supervision. The opening of the offices served as preparation for sending recruits to training camps in Damascus or Lebanon.
The sources explained that the main recruitment office for tribesmen (known as the “polarization office”) is located inside the security precinct of the Syrian regime’s institutions in Hassakeh, which Hajj Mahdi oversees directly.
The sources noted that there are several youth recruitment headquarters in the governorate — most notably, the Baath Brigades office led by Raed al-Khalaf (who is close to Hezbollah) and offices of the National Defense Militia, under the supervision of Abdelkader Hamou.
Speaking to Arabi 21, Syrian journalist Samer al-Ahmad confirmed that Iranian militias have engaged in intensive exercises in the eastern Euphrates areas. He noted that Iran and its proxies in the region are seeking to implement their agendas through recruitment.
Ahmad indicated that Iran is trying to use its regional presence to disrupt U.S. forces in place by inciting the people and continuing to recruit cells that can disturb U.S. patrols. In addition, the cells can cut off U.S. patrols in the name of popular resistance, as promoted by the Syrian regime.
Ahmad pointed out that Iran’s proxies seek to benefit from and reach the oil sources and gas fields located on the Syrian Jazeera. By doing so, they hope to gain a new, powerful stake in the Syrian economy.
This article was translated and 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.