Iran has invested tens of billions of dollars in the Syrian meat-grinder, with dozens of Islamic Republican Guard Corps (IRGC) personnel killed. It will not meekly depart Syria with its tail between its legs at the first hint of pressure from Netanyahu. Despite a token withdrawal of some Hezbollah foot soldiers, the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah defiantly announced that Hezbollah would remain in Syria as long as President Bashar Assad desired — as if Assad is even allowed to sneeze without asking Iran’s permission first.
Tehran understands that to perpetuate its dominant position in Syria, it must rely on local assets. Sectarian militias responsible for the worst massacres were trained and armed by Iran. Now it is reportedly recruiting a new generation of Syrian militias. IRGC and Hezbollah officers have embarked on a recruitment campaign throughout refugee camps, and batches of trainees recently graduated near the Syrian city of Deraa.
Hezbollah has reportedly paid around 2,000 former rebels to change sides, particularly among those forces that recently lost US funding. American officials sent WhatsApp messages to rebel commanders saying they should not go into battle with the “expectation of military intervention by us.” One commander bitterly interpreted Washington’s betrayal as meaning: “Go to Russia, go to the (Assad) regime, go to Iran.”
Read more: Arab News
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