The Russian military and Russian-backed Syrian forces have been increasing their presence on the border with Iraq.
Less than a week ago, the Russian Military Police established a local HQ in al-Bukamal. Recently, the 5th Corps of the Syrian Army, known for its links with the Russian military, created a network of border posts in the area. The move was apparently coordinated with Iranian-backed forces and the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces that actively operate in the border area.
Al-Bukamal is locating less than 30km from the town of al-Qaim, the stronghold of the Popular Mobilization Forces on the Iraqi side of the border.
Pro-Israeli sources claim that the increasing Russian presence in southern Deir Ezzor and along the border with Iraq may be a sign of a nearing Iranian withdrawal from the region. At the same time, there are no indications that Iranian-backed forces are going to withdraw from al-Bukamal anytime soon.
The presence of the Russians on the Iraqi-Syrian border is not something new. Russian forces played an important role in the anti-ISIS operations in the province, including the liberation of Deir Ezzor, al-Mayadin and al-Bukamal itself. In fact, the increasing Russian involvement is likely linked with the ongoing anti-ISIS operations in the central Syrian desert.
Just recently, the ISIS propaganda wing, Amaq, claimed that ISIS militants repelled a large attack of the Syrian Army on its hideouts in the eastern part of Hama province. 3 soldiers were allegedly killed, 10 others were inured and a vehicle was destroyed. Pro-militant sources also confirmed the increase of Russian airstrikes on terrorist targets in the region.
The remaining ISIS threat in the central part of the country also has a negative impact on the situation in the south. Negative processes have been taking place in Quneitra and Daraa provinces, which remain under the permanent destructive influence of Israel and its special services.
Recently, Israeli media and think tanks have started promoting the idea of the Israeli intervention into the ‘unstable’ Syrian south under the pretext of restoring ‘peace and prosperity’ in this region. Therefore, it is possible to expect the resumption of active Israeli military and clandestine operations to undermine the Syrian statehood in this particular region.