At least 168 armed elements, including Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and foreign terrorist groups under its command, have arrived at the front line in Syria’s northwestern Idlib, according to the information obtained by Anadolu Agency Friday. 

Some 75 elements from the Revolutionary Guard Corps passed through Iraq and entered Syria on 30 military vehicles the previous day.

The Iranians met with a total of 93 armed elements affiliated with Iran-backed terrorist groups and pro-regime Shabiha militias in the province of Deir-ez-Zor in eastern Syria.

The armed elements joined the ranks of the Assad regime on the front line in the Idlib de-escalation zone, moving from Deir ez-Zor on Thursday.

Situation in Idlib

During the Astana meeting on May 4-5, 2017 among Turkey, Russia, and Iran, four de-escalation zones were created, including Idlib and some regions of the neighboring provinces — Latakia, Hama, and Aleppo — north of the Homs province, Eastern Ghouta in the capital Damascus, and southern parts of the country — Daraa and Quneitra.

But the regime and Iran-backed terrorists, with the air support of Russia, captured three out of the four zones and turned their direction to take Idlib.

Turkey and Russia reached an additional agreement in Sochi to strengthen cease-fire in September 2018.

Russia and the regime forces launched operations to capture the whole area in May 2019 and seized many large settlement areas within the Idlib de-escalation zone.

Lastly, a new agreement was reached between Turkey and Russia on March 5 in Moscow.

The cease-fire, occasionally violated by the regime forces, is largely protected. During 2017-2020 period, attacks by the regime forces and Russia forced nearly 2 million civilians to migrate to areas close to the Turkish border.

Iran-backed groups’ presence in Deir ez-Zor

Deir ez-Zor, on the Syrian-Iraqi border, is the city that provides the land connection from Iran to Lebanon. Pipelines and trade routes from Iraq and Jordan also pass through this city.

The city center and west of Deir ez-Zor fell into the hands of the Assad regime with the help of Iranian-backed groups and Russia after the withdrawal of Daesh/ISIS terrorists in November 2017.

The Iran-backed foreign terrorist groups, “black force” of the regime, are mostly deployed in Deir ez-Zor.

Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps command Iranian, Iraqi, Lebanese, Afghan, and Pakistani origin groups based in Deir ez-Zor, where Sunni Arabs live.

Iran-backed groups provide sect-based education, organize cultural activities, and open “husayniyah”, a place of worship belonging to the Shia faith, in properties they seize in Deir ez-Zor.

Other parts of Deir ez-Zor, east of the Euphrates River, are occupied by the US-backed terrorist organization YPG/PKK.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and EU — has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.

* Writing by Sena Guler

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