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Iran Beefs Up East Syria Base Ahead of US Withdrawal

Iran Beefs Up East Syria Base Ahead of US Withdrawal

Thursday, 7 February, 2019 - 09:45
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo | Reuters
Moscow, Washington- Raed Jabr and Hiba al-Qudsi

Iran has moved to intensify its recruitment of militia fighters based in east Syria in an attempt to fill the vacuum set to be left behind by a US withdrawal announced last December, with the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights reporting on an Iranian delegation touching down in Syria’s al-Mayadin city.

The group of Iranian officials, according to the war monitor, worked on indoctrinating and recruiting local youth so they join Iran-backed militia ranks in Syria.

The Observatory said the Iranian delegation focused on youth in cities located west of the Euphrates River, in the eastern suburb of Deir Ezzour province in Syria, calling them to join Iranian forces.

More so, the Iranian delegation is said to have then visited Ayn Ali, controlled by Iranian-allied forces, the UK-based group quoted a German news agency as saying.

The observatory documented the arrival of convoys bringing in Iranian, Syrian and Iraqi visitors, who were performing religious rites in the town where a large military presence for Iranian forces helped in erecting a Shiite shrine in Ayn Ali.

This came the day after Iran’s of Roads and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Eslami inaugurated a highway connecting Kerman Shah in western Iran in the city of Hamel in eastern Syria.

According to the semi-official Iranian newspaper, Kayhan, said that the highway passes through Iraq aims to facilitate the transit route between Iran and Syria.

The minister said that the first operational stage comes after his recent visit to Syria to establish a highway with a length of 141 kilometers linking the two countries. He said the Iranian Ministry of Roads and Urban Development had hired a local contractor to implement the first phase, which covers 75 kilometers with a budget of 600 billion Iranian rials.

Seeking even warmer Syrian-Iranian ties, Syria’s top diplomat Walid al-Moallem is visiting Tehran to discuss cooperation and recent developments. He met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani before meeting with the senior adviser to the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati.

“Whether they want to or not, the Americans must leave Syria,” Velayati said according to the Reuters news agency citing Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

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