Syrian Opposition Websites: Iran-Backed Militias Enhance, Entrench Presence Along Syria's Borders With Iraq, Israel

October 26, 2023

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

On October 25, 2023, the pro-Syrian opposition Euphrates Post published an article, detailing the recent deployment of Afghan and Pakistani members of Iran-backed militias to eastern Syria.[1]

Separately, the Horan Free League, which shares a similar ideology with the Euphrates Post, published an article reporting the deployment of Iran-backed forces in southwestern Syria's border with Israel.[2] This news follows reports of a strengthening U.S. presence in western Syria and Israeli strikes on Syrian military targets, spurred by renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas.

'Afghan, Pakistani Forces In Deir Al-Zour'

According to the Euphrates Post, at least two buses carrying militia members entered Syria's eastern Deir Al-Zour countryside across the Iraqi border:

"Two buses carrying more than 100 militia members of Afghan and Pakistani nationalities entered the city of Al-Bukamal on the morning of October 25, through the Al-Sakk crossing, which is controlled by Iranian militias," according to a reporter cited in the piece.

According to the source, the units were affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), though they took steps to hide their presence:

"The members belong to the IRGC's militia, who entered the city on buses, not carrying any flags or slogans [associated with the militias]," said the reporter. The source did not specify the memberships of these Iran-aligned fighters.

Iran oversees multiple militias staffed by foreigners that operate in Syria, including the Afghan-dominated Fatemiyoun Brigade and the predominately Pakistani Zainebiyoun Brigade.[3]

The militia members traveled to an IRGC-administered site in the city, further cementing the connection.

"The buses then headed towards the Iranian 'Nasr' Center in the city of Deir Al-Zour after stopping in the market of the city of Al-Bukamal for a short time," said the reporter. The Nasr Center has previously been linked to senior IRGC members deployed in the city.[4]

A person in a turban holding gunsDescription automatically generated

'Deployments To Quneitra'

The Horan Free League reported that Iran-backed forces were also increasing their presence in Syrian areas near Israel.

Unidentified sources told the opposition outlet that "militias affiliated with Iran and Lebanese Hizbullah took the hills of Al-Jabiya and Al-Jomu', west of the city of Nawa, as the headquarters for a large military presence." This area is about 6.2 miles (10 km) from the Syrian-Israeli border.

The forces were armed with "four-wheel-drive vehicles fitted with missile launchers, suicide drones, combat drones, and advanced missiles," said the sources, who added that other advanced equipment, including signal jammers, anti-tank weapons, and anti-air guns, were already in the area.

Iranian forces have also increased their aerial reconnaissance operations in the area. "Reconnaissance aircraft take off from the Al-Jabiya hill on a daily basis for surveying the border areas with the Golan Heights," said the unnamed source.

The fighters in the area were described as: "Iranian and Syrian elements working for Hizbullah."

To arrive in the area, the forces passed through Sheikh Miskin, home of the 82nd Air Defense Brigade; an area east of Nawa, under the control of the 112th Mechanized Brigade; and another area north of Nawa around Umm Houran Hill, where the Al-Hajjajiyah tank battalion is present.

Irregular forces were spotted leaving the area on October 10 and on October 14, which coincided with rocket attacks on the Israeli-administered portion of the Golan Heights, according to the sources. These fighters returned after Israeli counterstrikes had ended.

The Iran-backed forces in the area launched rockets at the Israeli Golan Heights again on October 24, firing from agricultural areas to limit damage from subsequent retaliatory Israeli strikes.

Neither those attacks nor the Israeli counterattacks resulted in any casualties, said the sources.

A road with rocks in the middle of a fieldDescription automatically generated


The news comes amid reports of an increasing U.S. presence in the Middle East, caused by renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas.

On October 14, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin informed more than 2,000 service members of imminent deployments to the region, including members of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which has been ordered to deploy in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.[5]

At the same time, Iran-backed militias have increasingly targeted facilities housing U.S. personnel in Syria and Iraq, accusing the U.S. of being an occupying force.[6] Threats of additional attacks have explicitly referenced U.S. support for Israel and the ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas.[7]

U.S. officials say these and other attacks have wounded at least 24 personnel deployed in the region, including in Syria, where U.S. personnel are deployed alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) and stop the spread of Iran-backed groups in the area.[8]

Telegram channels supportive of, and affiliated with, Iran-backed militias have aggressively supported Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups following the Hamas surprise assault on southern Israel on October 7. These channels circulate posters and memes supporting the militants, chastising Israel, and threatening both Israel and the United States. Militias have also threatened to deploy to Israel's borders as part of these efforts, implying that militias could join the fighting if certain unnamed conditions are met.[9]

[1] Accessed October 26, 2023.

[2] Accessed October 26, 2023.

[3], accessed October 26, 2023.

[4] Accessed October 26, 2023.

[5], accessed October 26, 2023; and, accessed October 26, 2023.

[8] October 24, 2023.

The full text of this post is available to subscribers.

Please login or register to request subscription information from MEMRI


The Cyber & Jihad Lab

The Cyber & Jihad Lab monitors, tracks, translates, researches, and analyzes cyber jihad originating from the Middle East, Iran, South Asia, and North and West Africa. It innovates and experiments with possible solutions for stopping cyber jihad, advancing legislation and initiatives federally – including with Capitol Hill and attorneys-general – and on the state level, to draft and enforce measures that will serve as precedents for further action. It works with leaders in business, law enforcement, academia, and families of terror victims to craft and support efforts and solutions to combat cyber jihad, and recruits, and works with technology industry leaders to craft and support efforts and solutions.

Read More