Iranian-backed militias are attempting to control the supply lines in southern Syria, thus highlighting an alarming trend throughout the war-torn region. Militias and their foreign backers are fighting for power within Syria, as the U.S.-led coalition shrinks ISIS’ territory. Countries are maneuvering frenetically, determined to jockey into position, even as the Syrian government continues to fight the resistance.
“The coalition calls on all parties in southern Syria to focus their efforts on the defeat of ISIS, which is our common enemy and the greatest threat to the region and the rest of the world,” said Col. Ryan Dillion, a Pentagon spokesman.
The problem surfaced in recent weeks when Iranian-backed militias began to appear close to a U.S. outpost in southern Syria. The U.S.-led coalition struck the militias for a third time to warn them away from U.S. forces. An American warplane was also shot down by an Iranian-built armed drone operating in the same area.
The back and forth incidents demonstrate that the Iranian forces are threatening the U.S. forces, and trying to defending the supply routes to Lebanon that go through Iraq and southern Syria. This is just one part of the Iran land bridge, which stretches through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.
Analysts say the array of militias and foreign powers in the region have differing objectives, which are coming to the forefront as ISIS is pushed out of its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, leaving a power vacuum.
Syria isn’t the only country where Iran’s militias have been operating. Iraq has also had the assistance of Iran’s powerful Shiite militias in fighting ISIS, but now those militias have been traced to the Syrian border, which is raising concerns in the international community about the motives of these militias.
“Everyone knew ISIS would be defeated,” said Lukman Faily, a former Iraqi ambassador to the United States. “We see now that many of the powers in the region, and locally, are trying to strengthen their position for when ISIS is gone.”
Iran’s attempts to continue to strengthen its hold on various parts of the Middle East continue to feed the overall instability of the region. The lack of unity within the Arab and Gulf nations is leaving a gap that allows Iran to continue its quest of spreading its fundamentalism throughout the region.