"Over the course of ten days, hundreds of Hezbollah and Iraqi paramilitary fighters have poured into the southeastern countryside of Damascus, taking up positions alongside the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their allies.
The Iraqi paramilitaries, comprised of fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units (Hashd Al-Sha’abi), greatly outnumber the Hezbollah forces in southern Syria and for good reason.
Similar to Hezbollah’s field operations along the Lebanese border from 2013-present, the Iraqi paramilitaries are poised to not only secure the Baghdad-Damascus Highway, but also, seal the border from any jihadist forces.
Elements of the Popular Mobilization Units have been inside of Syria for 15 months, with the initial forces deployed to Damascus (Sayyida Zaynab area), Aleppo, and Deir Ezzor.
The Popular Mobilization Units will now have much more responsibility inside Syria, as the government in Damascus hopes their participation will help eliminate the last remnants of the Islamic State (ISIL) inside the country. AMN
The map above is labeled "eastern countryside of Suweida Governorate" It shows the advance of combined R+6 forces to the east from Suweida Governorate and the Jebel Druze. The map shows the distance from the advanced positions as 133 km. This has probably changed since the map was drawn.
In the last days we have seen the movement of Iraqi Shia Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) to the Iraqi border with Syria in the al-tanf area even as the confrontation of Iraqi PMU continues in al-bukamal border area to the east of al-tanf. The SAG government now states that it hopes to see the Iraqi PMU play a larger role in the war against the Sunni extremists. If that is so, then what form will that assistance take? Will the Iraqi PMU advance across the frontier to relieve the long besieged and hard fighting Syrian government of deir al-zor? The distance from al-bukamal is not great and this would be a significant contribution to the defeat of IS in the struggle the R+6 coalition is waging to preserve multi-confessional government in Syria
Yesterday a group of 60 Norwegian soldiers, present in Iraq to conduct training were moved to the al-tanf border crossing from Syria into Jordan. They are present WITHOUT the permission of the sovereign government of Syria. Why are they there? My conclusion is that they are there to strengthen the "trip-wire" provided by US and UK troops intended to dissuade the R+6 from overrunning al-tanf to restores SAG control of that piece of the border and block the US coalition's likely attempt to build a "redoubt" in SE Syria.
At the same time it is now known that the Turkish government has begun training yet more FSA fighters in the part of Syria that Turkey occupied in its recently completed offensive in northern Syria. That offensive toward central Syria ended IMO only because its further progress was blocked by the SAA and SDF forces. The Al-Qa'ida branch in Syria is now called Hayat Tahrir al0-Sham (HTS). Even they have concluded that the most likely use to be made by the Turks for these new forces is in an invasion for Idlib Governorate. If this occurs and a "resistance" redoubt is also created in SE Syria, the stage will be set for a final drama in Syria. pl