Iranian and Hezbollah forces are looking to establish themselves in Syria’s south, close to Israel’s Golan border, reports the London-based Arabic daily Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
Iran’s strategy is to set its forces close to the Golan Heights among Druze villages in order to complicate Israeli airstrikes, the news outlet reported on Monday.
According to Al-Araby, sources in As-Suwayda, a mainly Druze city located in southwestern Syria, said that Hezbollah and Iranian militias had recently arrived from an area near Damascus that was bombed by Israel.
“There is also information about the presence of Hezbollah forces in several military posts in the district, especially in the airport area and in the vicinity of Lajat [an area in southern Syria],” the sources said, adding that “the Iranians and Hezbollah have tried in the past to establish a presence in As-Suwayda.” They opened up recruitment offices and offered money, but enjoyed little success, the sources said.
According to the Arabic daily, in 2014-2015, Shiite vehicles showed up in the province playing propaganda songs from loudspeakers. After they were warned by locals that their vehicles would be attacked if they continued, they withdrew.
The movement of military forces in southern Syria is contrary to international consensus and an Israeli-Russian agreement that the area 80 to 100 kilometers north of the Golan Heights should be free of Iranian and Hezbollah forces.