http://diyaruna.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_di/features/2019/05/02/feature-02

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Security |

Syrian army subsumes IRGC-affiliated militia

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

Now that Liwa Imam al-Baqir has been absorbed into the Syrian army, the role of commander Maj. Gen. Nawaf al-Bashir (centre) is uncertain, an activist says. [Photo circulated on social media]

The Syrian regime has absorbed one of the militias affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) into its regular army, a Syrian journalist said.

This unusual move came in the wake of fierce clashes between IRGC-affiliated and Russian-affiliated militias in the Aleppo region, Syrian journalist Mohammed al-Abdullah told Diyaruna.

After the clashes, the Syrian regime decided to subsume officers and elements of the IRGC-affiliated Liwa Imam al-Baqir into the regular Syrian army, he said.

The tribal militia has been absorbed into the 137th Infantry Brigade of the Syrian army's 17th Division, stationed in the Panorama area in Deir Ezzor.

The fate of the brigade’s commander, Maj. Gen. Nawaf al-Bashir, is currently unknown, and it is not known whether he will be assigned a new duty.

Al-Abdullah said this move followed heightened tensions and clashes that erupted between IRGC-affiliated and Russia-affiliated militias in the provinces of Deir Ezzor and Aleppo over control of those strategic areas.

"This move is unprecedented, as no militia has been subsumed in its entirety into the Syrian army since the outbreak of the Syrian war," he said.

Such militias are generally dissolved, he noted, and their elements are ordered to report to the regime for their mandatory military or reserve duty.

Liwa Imam al-Baqir comprises members of al-Bakara tribe and Syrian regime loyalists in the provinces of Aleppo and Deir Ezzor.

Its fighters were trained by Lebanon's Hizbullah, al-Abdullah said, noting that the brigade’s commander, an al-Bakara tribal leader, has strong relations with Hizbullah’s cadres and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

He also has strong relations with senior IRGC officials, and has worked to shift the demographic composition of Deir Ezzor and Aleppo by spreading the doctrine of Wilayat al-Faqih (Guardianship of the Jurist), he said.

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