- - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Defectors from the Syrian army controlled by Bashar al Assad’s regime say government troops are nothing more than front for Iranian and Lebanese regular troops and militias who now are in control.

Khaled al-Shami, a recent defector from the Syrian army, told Middle East Eye, “One important thing to realize is that there is no Syrian army anymore, it is just militias, mostly Iranians and Lebanese … The Iranians and Hezbollah are not under the control of the Syrian army, it’s the exact opposite,” he said. “Ten high-ranking Iranian officers control the [ninth armored] division, they plan the operations. Only Iranian or Hezbollah forces can access operations rooms, no Syrian soldiers are allowed in … (in every battle) the commander is an Iranian IRGC (Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps), his deputy will be a Hezbollah officer.”

“Even the civilian Lebanese militia have the power to tell a Syrian general what to do, to send him back to his office,” said a soldier, who asked to remain anonymous. “They have better food than us, better weapons, and more respect.”
“These militia believe they are there to defend Syria when the regular army has failed so they treat us as failures with no respect.”

Shami defected from Assad’s troops to join the Syrian opposition in July. He was a soldier in the ninth armored division and served in southern Syria, where President Assad’s forces are battling a coalition of rebel groups. Free Syrian Army fighters now say that all of the troops they face in Syria’s civil war are now foreigners, Iranian, Lebanese or Russian.

This development, long suspected, confirms a Russian, Iranian, Syrian axis from the Shi’ite Assad regime to the Iraqi government, also now a defacto puppet state of Iran. The Middle East is now a cauldron of competing ideologies and factions from Shi’ite Islam and associated militias, Sunni Islam with its extremist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda, and the Kurdish forces in northern Iraq and Syria looking to protect their peoples and eventually become a nation state of their own. It is not at all clear that U.S. policy in the region has any chance of success or delineating which side we should be fighting on.



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