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NOW

Iran militia: 50,000 troops
needed to save Assad

The mission of the Iranian soldiers would be to ensure Syria’s coastal region is not cut off from Damascus.

Iranian soldiers. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

BEIRUT – An influential Iranian militant group thought to be close to the country’s rulers has called for tens of thousands of infantrymen to be sent to Syria, according to a report by Saudi-owned news channel Al-Arabiya.

 

“Iran must send 50,000 soldiers from the infantry force to Syria to manage the war there and prevent the fall of the Assad regime, which has begun to collapse recently,” Al-Arabiya reported, citing a study on Iran’s management of the war in Syria conducted by Ansar e-Hezbollah.

 

According to the cited study, the mission of the 50,000 soldiers would be to ensure Syria’s coastal region is not cut off from Damascus.

 

“Iran must preserve the vital corridor [connecting] Damascus to Latakia, Tartous and the Lebanese border.”

 

“[Any] delay by Iran in [implementing] this pre-emptive action will cause the fall of Damascus airport, which in turn [means] the severing of the essential communication and supply line Iran [uses] to assist the Syrian regime.”

 

Ansar e-Hezbollah, which was formally created in 1992, serves as a plain-clothed attack guard used by the Iranian government to target opponents of the clerical ruling system.

 

Although not an official part of Iran’s security services, the paramilitary group receives state training and is thought to be close to top circles of the country’s authorities.

 

Ansar e-Hezbollah’s study comes as the Syrian government has faced serious military setbacks, losing the Idlib province last week following months of sweeping rebel advances, as well as the desert town of Palmyra, which was stormed by ISIS on May 20.

 

Reports have emerged that the regime is moving toward considering a change in strategy to withdraw its forces to protect core government-held areas stretching from Syria’s coast through Homs down to Damascus.

 

The new policy would serve as a reversal of Assad’s strategy of deploying the army in all areas of Syria, including in bases and other surrounded regime-controlled areas in the east and north of the country, where ISIS now controls 50% of Syria’s territory.

 

Reports emerged last week that the Syrian regime has been preparing a military evacuation from Deir Ezzor after ISIS’ victory in Palmyra cut ground routes to the besieged city.

 

On May 24, AFP quoted the head of Al-Watan, a leading pro-regime paper, as saying that “it is quite understandable that the Syrian army should withdraw to protect large cities where much of the population is located.”

 

Meanwhile, an unnamed government figure told the agency that “the division of Syria is inevitable. The regime wants to control the coast, the two central cities of Hama and Homs, and the capital Damascus.”

Ansar e-Hezbollah called for a large deployment of Iranian troops to Syria. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Iran must preserve the vital corridor [connecting] Damascus to Latakia, Tartous and the Lebanese border.