Syrian Opposition Websites: Iran-Backed Militias Plan To Train Palestinian Militia In Syria To Launch Rockets And Suicide Drones; Russia Forbids Firing At U.S. Bases From Areas Under Syrian Armed Forces Control

December 25, 2023

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

In late December, two websites affiliated with the Syrian opposition published a series of reports about the operations of Russian and Iranian forces in Syria. Among other things, these reports reveal that: in eastern Syria, the Iran-backed militias intend to train members of the pro-regime Palestinian Liwa' Al-Quds militia in the launching of short-range rockets and suicide drones; the Russian forces in Syria have instructed the Syrian regime forces in the northeast of the country to prevent attacks from territory under their control on bases of the U.S.-led Global Coalition located in areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF); and also that the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has recently moved dozens of operatives from Iraq to southern Syria.

The following are details from the reports referred to above:

On December 22, 2023, the Syrian opposition-affiliated Eye of the Euphrates website reported that according to "exclusive sources," on the previous day, Iran's IRGC had sent more than 50 operatives from Iraq to southern Syria. The operatives were said to have been transported in buses belonging to the regime that arrived from Iraq at the city of Al-Bukamal, under the protection of the "Iranian security bureau." Most of the operatives were reportedly Afghan nationals who spent a few days in Al-Bukamal after arriving from Iraq, before being transported to the south.

The website noted that the IRGC had taken advantage of the easing of restrictions by the Syrian regime regarding the entrance of Iraqi pilgrims who come to Syria to visit the Shi'ite holy places. It claimed that following the decision to ease restrictions dozens of buses carrying members of the Iran-backed militias entered Syria, and most of them traveled to the south of the country.

Eye of the Euphrates also released a 23-second video that allegedly depicts one of the buses.[1]

On December 23, the Syrian opposition-affiliated Eye of the Euphrates website quoted "exclusive sources," which claimed that Iran's IRGC had deployed dozens of operatives and several vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft guns in the city of Al-Mayadin, east of Deir Al-Zour. This coincided with the arrival of several Iranian commanders from Iraq who met with commanders of the pro-regime Palestinian Liwa' Al-Quds militia at the security compound in Al-Mayadin's Al-Tamu neighborhood, where they discussed increasing military cooperation and holding joint military training courses.

The same sources have reported that the Iran-backed militias intend to train the members of the Palestinian militia, who hail from the Syrian coastal region and the Homs Governorate, in the use of short-range rockets and suicide drones. The courses are to take place at the Al-Mayadin agricultural airport, which the Iran-backed militias converted into a launching pad for drones.

The Syrian opposition website also released a 31-second video which shows a vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft gun in a civilian area in Al-Mayadin.[2]

On December 24, the Deirezzor24 website, which covers the Deir Al-Zour region in northeastern Syria, reported that Brigadier General Al-Kamit Hashem, commander of the Bashar Al-Assad regime's Fifth Legion in the Deir Al-Zour Governorate, had issued new orders to his soldiers stationed in the seven regime-controlled villages east of the Euphrates. The orders reportedly instruct them to target any location in regime-held areas in Deir Al-Zour from where weapons are fired at U.S.-led Global Coalition bases in the areas controlled by the SDF. The orders are said to be derived from instructions given by Russian commanders following a meeting between U.S. and Russian forces that was held at Russia's Khmeimim base in Syria.

The Deirezzor24 report included a map showing the location of U.S. and Iranian bases in the area, as well as Russian positions.[3]

These reports follow others published by Syrian-opposition sources in early December that describe the operations of the Iran-backed militias in Syria. These operations include training in operating Iraqi-made drones in eastern Syria; plans to deliver shipments of drones to be used to attack U.S. bases;[4] and stepping up the dissemination of Shi'ism and the recruitment of local operatives as part of a military escalation against the U.S.-led Global Coalition.[5]

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