Syrian Regime closes accounts with west- and Israel-linked rebels, as Iran builds and expands its presence in the area.
Evidence emerging from south west Syria indicates that the Assad regime has begun to ‘close accounts’ with former rebels who worked with Israel and with western countries during the years that this area was outside of regime control. A number of prominent former rebel commanders in Deraa and Quneitra Provinces have recently disappeared after being apprehended by regime forces. Other former rebels have been prevented from leaving the area for opposition-controlled Idleb province in the country’s north east.
The regime’s measures against those it deems unfit for ‘reconciliation’ are continuing parallel to the integration of rank and file former rebels into the regime’s security structures. What is returning to Syria’s south, however, is not the status quo ante bellum. Iran and its allies have a central role in the emergent power structure. Indeed, the emergent reality is one in which it is difficult to discern where precisely the Syrian state ends and Iran and its allies begin. Syria’s south west, which was the cradle of the uprising against Assad, is now being transformed into the birthplace of a new Syria, in which Iran and its allies form a vital and inseparable component.