October 12, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10859

Reports On Reinforcement Of Hizbullah Forces And Iranian Militias In Southern Syria In Advance Of Possible Expansion Of The Israel-Hamas Fighting

October 12, 2023
Iran, Lebanon, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10859

Arab online news outlets, among them those affiliated with the Syrian opposition, are reporting on intensified preparations by Hizbullah and Iranian militias in Syria, in advance of the possibility that the current war between Israel and Hamas will expand to the Syrian front.

Some of these reports stated that these militias are building up their forces in southern Syria, primarily in the Dera'a and Quneitra provinces, near the Syria-Israel border.

The following are some of these reports:

On October 10, 2023, the Syrian Human Rights Observatory organization reported that Palestinian factions that are working together with Hizbullah shelled the Golan Heights from within Syria.[1]

The front page of the Syrian daily Al-Watan, which is affiliated with President Bashar Al-Assad,  featured the following photo, with the text "Flood Of Vengeance – From Syria To Palestine."[2]

"Flood Of Vengeance – From Syria To Palestine (Source: Al-Watan, Syria, October 8, 2023.

According to reports, the reinforcement of the pro-Iran forces in southern Syria has included the arrival of the Al-Radwan Unit, a select Hizbullah unit, in regions near the border with Israel. On October 10, the Damascus Voice website, which is affiliated with the Syrian opposition, reported that operatives from the Al-Radwan Unit had arrived at several positions in Dera'a province, equipped with Iranian drones and air defense systems. It was also reported that several of the unit's operatives had deployed along the border with Israel, under the supervision of Iranian IRGC generals.[3]

The previous day, October 9, Damascus Voice reported that Al-Radwan Unit operatives had arrived in military bases near the village of Al-Sihayliyyah in the rural area north of Dera'a, equipped with Iranian anti-tank missiles and Ababil UAVs. Leading these operatives were Hizbullah commanders: Al-Haj Noor Al-Din Sha'ito and Al-Haj Abbas Salem, who are the top officials in charge of operating the UAVs in the Al-Radwan Unit.[4]

At the same time, the Horan Free Media network, which is affiliated with the Syrian opposition and covers southern Syria, reported on October 8 that Hizbullah operatives had entered several military positions in northwest Dera'a province and Quneitra province near the border with Israel and that they were equipped with UAVs, Iranian Fajr missiles, and advanced weaponry.[5] Another noted that Hizbullah operatives had arrived at outposts in the village of Bariqa in Quneitra province, about two kilometers from the Israeli border.[6]

Other Iranian militias too were making preparations at the Syria-Israel border. On October 9, it was reported that the Liwaa Al-Imam Al-Hussein militia had dispatched 60 of its operatives from the Rif Damascus province to Tel Al-Za'atar near the northern entrance to the city of Dera'a, where they engaged in preparing fortifications and tunnels and deployed heavy and medium automatic weapons.[7] Likewise, the Hizbullah-affiliated Fawz Al-Julan militia, which is positioned near the Golan Heights, received orders to escalate its readiness and to summon all its operatives in Quneitra province.[8] Additionally, the presence of the Iran-affiliated Palestinian Liwaa Al-Quds militia was identified in several villages in Quneitra province near the Golan Heights.[9]

At the same time, the commanders of Iranian militias in eastern Syria offered their operatives an option to move to southern Syria to support the fighting against Israel.[10]

Report: 22 Buses Full Of Afghan And Iraqi Militias Disguised As Shi'ite Pilgrims Entered Syria From Iraq

It appears that Iran is estimating that Israel's current engagement in the Gaza Strip will allow Iran to reinforce its presence in Syria without coming under attack by Israel. The Syrian opposition website reported on October 11 that since the beginning of the "Al-Aqsa Flood" war, 22 buses full of operatives from Afghan and Iraqi militias disguised as Shi'ite pilgrims had entered Syria from Iraq. These operatives arrived in Homs and Damascus, and from there were dispersed among the Iranian militia outposts. Similar reports about militia operatives entering in the guise of religious tourists were also published by Syrian opposition websites prior to October 7, and it was also reported that Iran had sent air defense and radar equipment to its militias in Deir Al-Zour.[11]

In Syria, Iranian Activity To Rally Public Support For Hamas

Iranian activity in Syria following the outbreak of the war went beyond bringing in weapons and pro-Iran forces. In Deir Al-Zour, parts of which have Iranian militias in them, the militia commanders launched a public relations campaign to rally support for Hamas and collect donations for the Palestinian resistance.[12]


[1], October 10, 2023.

[2] Al-Watan (Syria), October 8, 2023.

[3], October 10, 2023.

[4], October 9, 2023.

[5], October 8, 2023.

[6], October 10, 2023.

[7], October 9, 2023.

[8], October 10, 2023.

[9], October 8, 2023.

[10], October 10, 2023.

[11], October 11, 2023. It should be noted that there were reports on October 12 about an Israeli attack on Damascus and Aleppo airports that was connected to news about Iranian weapons being smuggled into Syria., October 12, 2023.

[12] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 9, 2023;, October 11, 2023.

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