PDC Pro-Iranian Militia Mapping Project
This map was created by PDC Inc. team to convey the presence of pro-Iranian militias in Deir Azzour province, Syria. The following is a list of active know militias on the ground that PDC can verify:
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) / Syrian Arab Republican Government Forces / General Militias (mixture of local and foreign militias) / Zaynabiyoon Brigade / Quds Brigade (Palestinian Faction) / Mixture of Iranian backed Militias
Hezbollah / Palestinian Liberation Army
The heavy presence of pro-Iranian militias in Deir Azzour province, Syria, demonstrates Iran’s continued efforts towards expanding its influence across the Levant. There are 16 different Iranian militias present along both sides of the Euphrates river, stretching from Al-Tabni in the north to Abu Kamal in the south. They occupy major cities, towns, villages and neighborhoods in all three of the Province’s districts: Deir Azzour, Mayadin and Abu Kamal. The influence of the different militias in the region does not merely imply military control, but also the provision of food, aid and educational services.
Social and Religious Influence
Pro-Iranian militias have opened Iranian culture centers in Deir Azzour city, Mayadin and Abu Kamal. These centers host activities and celebrations that promote Shia religious doctrine, offer classes on Shia religious tenets and inform people of available scholarships to pursue studies in Tehran. Additionally, the militias have built Hussainiyas, Shia spaces for worship and congregation around the province. In Abu Kamal, Iranian organizations have opened two schools with entirely Iranian staff. The instruction at these schools are all in Farsi and match Iranian curricula. Iran has also opened facilities belonging to the Jihad al-Banna organization in several cities and towns in the Deir Azzour province, including Abu Kamal. The mission of this organization is to buy houses for the purpose of resettling foreign fighters in Syria and to rebuild destroyed residential structures. These activities are conducted under the guise of “Reconstruction.” The organization also distributes aid to members of the sectarian militias that support it, as well as the residents of Deir Azzour city. It provides them with food baskets marked with the words “Islamic Republic of Iran’s assistance to the Syrian people.”
Building a Land Bridge
Iran’s goal to create a land bridge between Tehran and Hezbollah controlled territories in Lebanon, is slowly being accomplished through the control over specific territories within Syria. By ostensibly holding territory in Eastern Syria, as well as creating the domestic capacity to build weapons in those areas, the effort to deliver weapons to Lebanon becomes much easier for Iran. To Iran, controlling territory in Eastern Syria is not merely a short-term plan to make the movement of weapons easier. Instead, it is part of a long-term strategy to reorient societies across the Middle East to support a hegemonic Iran. By socially and religiously influencing people, as was exemplified in the above section, Iran has the potential to impose dominance and generate support itself outside of its traditional sphere of influence.
Additional Credit to: Morgan Bedford and Yakin Ouederni