A social media campaign set in motion by Syrian activists has been attempting to expose the harm the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its affiliated militias are causing in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.
According to local observers, the campaign has been accompanied by grassroots actions, which has prompted the IRGC and its allies to intensify their harassment of civilians.
Activist Aboud al-Hameed, one of the administrators of the Albu Kamal Revolutionaries account (@bukamalthoaar) on the Telegram app, told Al-Mashareq about the campaign.
Deir Ezzor activists reject the presence of the IRGC and its affiliated militias, he said, and have been conducting a large-scale online campaign against their presence for some time.
The initiative consists of "exposing the truth about the IRGC's plans in the region and revealing the identity of its collaborators in a number of cities and villages", he said.
What is notable about this new campaign is that the social media posts (mostly via Telegram) include the names and photos of those who are collaborating with the IRGC, he said.
The most popular hashtag in the campaign is #Get_Out, said al-Hameed.
On the second anniversary of the killing of IRGC Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani "many hashtags sprang up on Twitter and Facebook", he said.
Among the most popular were #Qassem_Soleimani_is_a_criminal; #we are_Qassems_victims and #weremember, he said.
"Activists inside and outside Syria have participated in recalling the crimes committed by the IRGC and its militias against the Deir Ezzor region and its people," al-Hameed said.
"Many activists in Deir Ezzor are campaigning on social media platforms against the presence of the IRGC," Albu Kamal media activist Ayham al-Ali said.
They use aliases out of fear of persecution, he said.
Others campaign in person, he added, spraying slogans on city walls and distributing pamphlets that denounce the IRGC and allied militias.
According to al-Ali, these actions have angered IRGC commanders, prompting them to tighten security and monitor shops that sell spray paint used for graffiti, as well as shops that provide photocopying services.
He said militia elements immediately arrest anyone suspected of filming militia or IRGC sites with a camera.
Deir Ezzor activist Jamil al-Abed told Al-Mashareq anger is spreading in the province because of the security crackdown and cruelty perpetrated by Iran-affiliated militias and the demographic change the IRGC is bringing about in the region.
Changes include settling families of IRGC-affiliated militiamen in the area, changing the names of mosques and streets and establishing religious centres affiliated with the doctrine of Wilayat al-Faqih (Guardianship of the Jurist), he said.
The doctrine calls for allegiance to Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.
Al-Abed said Iranian militias have recently painted their headquarters in the colours of the Syrian flag and raised the Syrian flag on the roofs to give the impression that they are Syrian regime army posts.
This was done to protect them from being targeted by air strikes, he said.
"But the region's activists are exposing these tactics by posting photos and information about them, especially those pertaining to the 47th Regiment, which is the most widely deployed IRGC militia in Deir Ezzor," he said.
The militia has recruited a number of Syrians from the province into its ranks.
Displaced residents of the province have staged a number of demonstrations in areas outside the IRGC's control, al-Abed said.
During these protests, "participants demanded the IRGC's departure from Deir Ezzor, denounced its crimes and burned pictures of its commanders", he said.