Iranian Militias Deployed in Central Syria after Russia's Withdrawal

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces, the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Fourth Division led by Major General Maher al-Assad, have reinforced their military presence in the Mahin military warehouse in the eastern countryside of Homs - the second largest arms and ammunition depot in Syria.

The move came following the withdrawal operation by the Russian forces and the Fifth Brigade towards Palmyra Military Airport.

Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that huge military IRGC reinforcements arrived to the area in the past two days, with around 40 military vehicles, equipped with medium machine guns, while others carried members of the Lebanese Hezbollah.

A number of armored vehicles transported Fourth Division forces to the Mahin military warehouses east of Homs, the sources added.

“With this operation, the strategic Mahin warehouses, located east of Homs, became completely subject to the Iranian militias, the pro-Iran Fourth Division, and the Lebanese Hezbollah, following the withdrawal of the Russian forces,” the sources underlined, noting that the warehouses constitute one of the largest reserves of weapons and ammunition within a geographical area surrounded by mountains and valleys.

Over the past years, the strategic warehouses, which include about 25 fortified depots, have witnessed violent battles between the conflicting forces in Syria.

After the expansion of the influence of ISIS in the Syrian Badia between 2013 and 2015, the organization carried out a surprise attack during which it was able to control the warehouses. The regime forces later regained the area until the Russian intervention.

Russian and IRGC forces used the depots to store weapons and ammunition to support the military operations against ISIS in the Homs desert.