There have been growing signs that Iran has infiltrated Syrian society in the country’s south and northeast as Russia has continued to expand its influence in Syria’s state institutions.
Syrian opposition sources in Turkey revealed on Thursday that recent changes in the Syrian security and army apparatuses were the result of Moscow’s attempts to increase its influence within the two institutions.
Russia got involved in the Syrian war four years ago, helping the regime expand areas it had lost to opposition and militant fighters from 15 to 60 percent of the country’s territory, which is approximately 186,000 square kilometers.
Moscow has established two military bases in Latakia and Tartus and has won a contract to operate the Tartus port, while Syria authorized Tehran through a contract to manage the Latakia facility.
According to the sources, the reshuffle involved the appointment of Major General Akram Mohammed as deputy director of the General Intelligence Department, General Qais Rajab as head of the State Security Department in Tartus, and General Ghassan Al-Ali as head of the State Security Department in Hasaka.
There are also attempts to appoint General Salem Al-Hosh as head of the State Security Department in Suweida, where Brigadier General Jamal Al-Ahmad, commander of the 15th Division of Suwaida province, was killed on Tuesday.
Also, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday that Iran was expanding its control in Deir Ezzor and other areas in Damascus and its countryside by continuing to attract men through a network of agencies, with an aim to enhance Tehran’s position in Syria amid a Russian-Iranian “cold war” to control strategic, economic and political assets in the country.
Separately, several factions launched on Thursday intense attacks on areas that the Syrian regime recaptured recently in the north of Hama.
The Observatory said that as part of their strategy to advance towards regime positions in al-Jabin, Tal Meleh, and al-Hamamiyyat in the northern countryside of Hama, rebel and militant factions reached on Thursday al-Jabin village after violent clashes with government forces.
During the fighting, more than 400 shells and missiles targeted Kafr Nabudah, al-Qassabiyyeh, Tal Hawash, al-Hamamiyyat, al-Jabin, Tal Meleh, al-Moghir and Muhradah, which are controlled by regime forces in the countryside of Hama and Idlib.