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Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Iran’s Underground Efforts in Syria’s South Hope to Reestablish Foothold

Iran’s Underground Efforts in Syria’s South Hope to Reestablish Foothold
Wednesday, 7 November, 2018 - 13:45
https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1453056/iran%E2%80%99s-underground-efforts-syria%E2%80%99s-south-hope-reestablish-foothold

Daraa (Southern Syria)-Asharq Al-Awsat

A delegation of senior Tehran representatives close to the Iranian Supreme
Leader visited Syria’s southwestern province, Daraa. Their trip was carried
out under the banner of reconstruction and empowerment of locals.

Including Khamenei’s personal representative, dubbed Abu Fazzel Tabtabai,
the team congratulated Daraa for being freed from the grip of terror groups,
Syria pro-regime media outlets reported.

Daraa officials tagged along for the delegation’s tour of the governorate.
The Iranian delegation accredited Iranian and Hezbollah forces for helping
achieve the eradication of “terrorism,” in the southern province, private
sources said.

Promising to put the best interest of Daraa locals first, Iran pledged to
launch reconstruction projects in the southern region in the coming months.

Iran is slowly finding its way back into Syrian southern territories after
it had confirmed its withdrawal in favor of a reconciliation pact struck
between rebels and the Syrian regime, South Syria resident Samer Al Musalma
told Asharq Al Awsat.

The deal stipulates removing Iran forces and affiliate proxies from Syria’s
southern regional border area.

“Iran is trying to grow its activities in Syria’s south whether it is of a
civilian or military nature, even though it is trying hard to play the
“reformed man’s” role away from arms and closer to culture and civil
services,” Musalma said.

He added that Tabtabai’s visit and his promises to locals speak volumes of
Iran’s desire to reestablish foothold in the region.

On one hand, Iran promises infrastructure projects, and on the other it is
trying to empower its militant proxy, Hezbollah, in southern Syria, where
unemployment rates and poor living conditions leave youth helplessly
vulnerable before materialistic temptations.

Musalma added that Hezbollah’s recruitment process is carried out by local
mediators in rural villages and towns near the southwestern border city
Sweida, and Daraa’s countryside. Hezbollah conscription is being sold to
youth under the assumption that Hezbollah holds unmatched clout in Syria.

Those joining the ranks of Hezbollah, a well-established ally of Assad, are
promised impunity from regime harassment. Many draft dodgers and deserters
of army reserve calls are likely to opt for the offer being presented by the
Iran-linked proxy.

Iran is trying to exert its influence in the south of Syria through local
mediators carrying out its agenda and circumvent international
understandings that called for its exit from southern Syria regions,
activist Muhannad al-Abdullah from Daraa told Asharq Al-Awsat.

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