An official in the Syrian Coalition said that Iran is seeking to change the form of its sectarian militias operating in Syria in an attempt to make them legitimate forces similar to the Fifth Corps which was established by Russia nearly a year ago.
Member of the Coalition’s political committee Yasser Farhan said that the move is aimed at cementing Iran’s influence in Syria, adding that the reported formation of Syrian Popular Mobilization Forces aims to cover up the elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and sectarian militias deployed in Syria.
Farhan stressed that Iran's goal remains to link Tehran to Damascus through Baghdad and reach the Mediterranean coast in Syria. He pointed out that the local population’s rejection of the militias of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) is prompting some people in northern Syria to join other military formations. Farhan emphasized the Coalition's rejection of all formations that do not serve the national inclusive project.
Activists said that the pro-regime National Defense Forces (NDF) stationed in the town of Qamishli have recently assumed a new name, which is the Syrian Popular Mobilization Forces.
Activists pointed out that the new formation was formed by a pro-regime armed group along the lines of the Iraqi Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces which were founded by a decision and support from Iran. They added that Ali Hawas Khleif, locally known for his pro-Iranian views, was appointment commander of the new formation.
The new formation has established centers to train recruits on the use of weapons. Its commander Khleif has issued an amnesty for those who defected from the ranks of regime forces provided they join the new formation. (Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)