The commander of the Russian forces, which are stationed at the Hmeimim Air Base, awarded a high-level medal to four militia leaders in the regime forces for the role they played in killing and displacing Syrians.
On February 7, the National Defense militia page in Al-Suqaylabiyah said that General Sergey Yuryevich Kozlov, commander of the Russian forces at the Hmeimim base, awarded the second-class Russian Federation medal to the leaders of the National Defense Militia Nabel al-Abdullah, Simon al-Wakeel, and Fadel Warda, who is a member of the People’s Assembly in the Assad regime. Moreover, Brig. Gen. in the regime forces, Saleh al-Abdullah, was awarded with the same medal for his role in fighting terrorism, according to the statement of the Russian forces.
Recently, Russian officers have intensified their field and official visits to the cities of Al-Suqaylabiyah and Muhradah to play the religious card and portray Russia as the protector of Christianity in Syria. Moscow, however, uses the people of the two cities in its fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Hama and Homs.
Russia has been repeatedly honoring militia leaders and officers as well as members of the Assad forces as a reward for their crimes and massacres against the Syrian people, on the one hand, and in order to buy their absolute loyalty and use them to further entrench its influence, away from Assad and his rule, on the other. This is particularly true in regions that are far, religiously, from Iran, which, in turn, is seeking to establish religious institutes, set up camps in the governorates of Aleppo, Deir Ez-Zor and some areas of the western coast of Syria, in an open war of influence between Moscow and Tehran. For his part, Assad oscillates between religious and secular discourse to tug at the heartstrings of his supporters and preserve his symbolic status in their minds.
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.