Sources claim that some one hundred Russian officials evacuated Syria due to rebels advancing towards the north of the country.
Asharq al-Awsat reported this morning that Russia had withdrawn its officials from Syria fearing the collapse of the Assad regime. Dozens of Russians were flown from the country in fear of the rebels, which include the Islamic State, gaining control of Syria. Sources interpreted the move as Putin “turning his back” on Assad.
According to the report, Russia removed roughly one hundred people from Syria, due to the serious deterioration in security in the country. Russia estimates that the Assad regime will fall within a few months. On Friday, a plane arrived in Syria to take the Russians back to Moscow.
The Russian move came after the rebels took over a number of areas in the western part of the country and progressed towards the north of the country. Yesterday, IS destroyed the Assad regime’s famous prison in the city of Palmyra, marking their control of the land.
In recent days, the Arab world has estimated that Assad will not be able to win the battle for his country. Arab officials believe that if Assad does not get significant aid from Iran, the battle will be won by the rebel forces, including IS, within months.
A senior-level analyst in Iran said on Friday that his country “is considering signing a defense treaty” with Syria, in order to deploy troops in Syria to stymie the progress of IS.
Assad’s regime is not expected to lose Syria gradually, but rather to collapse all at once. Such a serious security incident will have a significant impact on Israel and the northern front. Israel is closely monitoring the situation.
Tehran is preparing not only for battles within Syria, but also in the neighboring Iraq. The Iranians recruited Shiite militias in order to conquer western Iraq from the Islamic State. The new offensive forces are found in the province of Anbar and in its capital, Ramadi. This process is significant for Israel, because if the Iranian militias gain control of western Iraq or the main road in the region, a land corridor will have been formed leading from Iran to Iraq and all the way to Syria and Hezbollah.
Sunni leaders argue that the fall of Ramadi to the hands of IS was a conspiracy to bring in the Iranian militias, which are advancing towards the border between Syria and Turkey. An Iranian official addressed the issue over the weekend, saying that IS “cannot threaten Iran’s borders” and warned that Iran would give “a crushing response to any threat”.