Russia has been using the presence of Iranian-backed militia in southern Syria, most notably near the occupied Golan Heights, to put pressure on Israel over support for Western opposition to the invasion of Ukraine. Local media reported that on 12 March, for example, Russia conducted a patrol of Iranian military vehicles on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
The media quoted military analyst Brigadier General Asaad Al-Zoubi as saying that by allowing the Iranians to move near the border, Russia has sent a warning to Israel, which occupies the Golan Heights. The Israeli government is basically being told not to stand with the US if the Biden administration decides to intervene in the Ukrainian war.
Al-Zoubi pointed out that Iran and its militias cannot move without Russia’s prior consent. Russian-Iranian coordination, he added, takes place around the clock in Syria.
According to the analyst, Russian officials have met with Iranian leaders in Syria since the first day of the invasion of Ukraine and informed them that Russia’s air defence systems will provide protection for all of their militias.
“Russian-Iranian coordination has become apparent in Syria,” explained Al-Zoubi. “Russia took into account some Arab countries to get what it wanted and deluded them into believing that it was against the Iranian militias, and that it was working to expel them. Today, though, Russia cannot hide from the world its criminality, brutality and support for terrorist systems.”
It is noteworthy that Iran has been working for years to strengthen its forces in southern Syria.