Thursday, May 23, 2024

Iran Pulls Back Troops from Syria After Suspected Israeli Attacks

HomeWARIran Pulls Back Troops from Syria After Suspected Israeli Attacks

In a startling reversal of fortunes, Iran has begun withdrawing military forces from Syria after a relentless campaign of Israeli airstrikes left its ranks severely degraded, sources close to Hezbollah and a prominent war monitor revealed Wednesday.

Iran’s strategic quest to cement a “Shiite crescent” of influence across the Middle East, stretching from its borders to the Mediterranean coast, has hit a treacherous roadblock in Syria’s rubble-strewn battlefields. The attacks have exacted a grievous toll, decapitating Tehran’s command structure and shattering the aura of deterrence its elite Quds Force once projected.

“Iran withdrew its forces from southern Syria, including both Quneitra and Daraa provinces abutting the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights,” a source close to the Iranian proxy Hezbollah disclosed, speaking on condition of anonymity. However, the source added, Iran retains a residual presence elsewhere in the war-ravaged nation.

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The retreat from southern Syria follows a devastating strike on April 1 that pulverized Iran’s consulate in Damascus, killing seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members. Two were high-ranking generals coordinating Tehran’s operations in the Syrian quagmire on behalf of Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime.

That audacious strike prompted Iran to retaliate with its first-ever direct missile and drone attack against Israeli territory on April 13-14. But the daring counterattack failed to deter Israel from relentlessly degrading Tehran’s capabilities in Syria through what Israeli media termed the “campaign between the wars.”

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, corroborated accounts of Iran’s withdrawal from Damascus and southern Syria near the Israeli-occupied Golan. He estimated as many as 3,000 Iranian troops had previously been deployed, bolstered by tens of thousands of Tehran-trained foreign Shiite militia members.

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“Many of Iran’s military advisers have left Syria over the past six months,” Abdel Rahman told AFP, though some Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps personnel remain in Aleppo and Deir Ezzor provinces.

While Tehran has steadfastly denied deploying conventional combat troops, the string of precise strikes obliterating its command elements and infrastructure suggests an appreciable military presence built up during over a decade of fighting to preserve Assad’s regime.

Iranian flags, portraits of the Supreme Leader, and Revolutionary Guard offices have abruptly vanished from many areas of the Syrian capital, according to recent visitors to Damascus. Only in the southern suburb of Sayyida Zeinab, home to an important Shiite shrine, does Iran’s once ubiquitous presence still linger.

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The scaling back represents a stunning reversal for the Islamic Republic, which expended vast blood and treasure to ensure Assad’s survival and secure a corridor into the Levant. With its forces forced into full retreat from southern Syria under Israeli bombardment, Iran’s much-vaunted “land bridge” to the Mediterranean now lies in ruins.

For Israel, the campaign has dealt a punishing blow to its archenemy’s strategic ambitions. But the respite may prove temporary as the region’s preeminent military confronts an array of battle-hardened adversaries bent on establishing a permanent Iranian foothold in Syria.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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