Skip to main content

Report: Iran-backed militia members enter Syria via Iraq

The news from a Syrian pro-opposition group contradicts statements by some Israelis that Iran may be pulling back from Syria.
The house of local farmer Hamad al-Ibrahim is seen destroyed in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz on March 13, 2020, a year after the fall of the Islamic State's (IS) caliphate. - A year after the last black flag of the Islamic State group was lowered in the Syrian village of Baghouz, traces of the jihadist group are still all around this small and remote village near the Iraqi border, where Kurdish fighters and the US-led coalition declared the IS proto-state defeated in March 2019 after a blistering m

More Iran-backed militia members entered eastern Syria from Iraq, according to a pro-Syrian opposition group. The report comes after statements by Israelis that Iran may be starting to withdraw somewhat from Syrian territory.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported today that buses carrying tens of fighers entered al-Bokamal in the eastern Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor, citing unnamed sources. The move followed an attack Saturday via an unknown aircraft on Iranian forces in the area. Earlier that week, the militias received reinforcements to one of their nearby bases, according to the observatory.

The Deir ez-Zor region’s deserts are also the location of much of the Islamic State’s recent activity in Syria.

This news follows remarks by some Israeli officials that Iran may be pulling back from Syria. Naftali Bennett, defense minister until a few days ago, said this week that Iran was withdrawing its forces from Syria following intensified bombings attributed to Israel, but he did not offer any evidence of this.

Israel is suspected of carrying out several recent bombings of Iranian forces’ warehouses and other facilities in Syria. Israel does not take credit for such attacks, but Israeli politicians have acknowledged hitting Iranian targets in the region.

An Israeli security source told Al-Monitor this month that Iran’s transfers of military hardware in Syria have stopped and that the presence of Iranian and allied forces is declining.

It is possible that Iran is simply adapting its position in Syria and some doubt the Islamic Republic is pulling out. Iran is under significant pressure from US sanctions, the coronavirus pandemic, the suspected Israeli bombings and the drop in global oil prices. This is making Iran’s military action abroad more costly, but Iran has had forces in Syria and Iraq for years. Tehran still has crucial interests in Syria related to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Mediterranean access.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Free

The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.

Free

What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing
Expert

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to pro.support@al-monitor.com and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial