Iran and Hizballah have unleashed a harsh campaign of abuse against Moscow, accusing Russian forces in Syria of playing ball with the “Zionist enemy.” News of the unprecedented scale and malevolence of this campaign was brought to Washington this week by Dr. Ahmad Samir Attaqi, a Syrian researcher and political activist, who headed the Orient Center for International Studies in Damascus, after a career as a cardio-vascular surgeon, and in 2010, established the Orient Research Center in Dubai, of which he is director general. A former member of the Syrian Communist Party, this Syrian academic kept up his contacts in Moscow after he left Damascus.
DEBKA Weekly’s Middle East sources say that, in view of his unusual credentials, Dr. Altaqi was given a respectful hearing in Washington, when he described the fast-growing breach between Iran and Hizballah and their erstwhile comrades-at-arms in Syria, the Russian army, with suggestions of how to turn it to America’s advantage.
Our last issue DW 845 revealed how the Russians were kicking Iranian personnel and proxies out of the air bases they share in Syria. This week, Iran and Hizballah are accusing Russian forces of not only of hindering their movements in southwestern Syria in areas close to Israel’s Golan border, but passing information on those movements and other activities to Israeli and western intelligence agencies.
This is tantamount to accusing the Russians of collaborating with the enemy.
Their ire is directed at the conduct of the four Russian military police battalions posted south of Damascus on the Syrian Golan – opposite the Syrian-Israeli border and up to the slopes of Mount Hermon. They consist mainly of Chechen special operations troops.
They are perceived by Iran as guilty of four heinous offenses:
1. Russian military police have in recent weeks been accosting Iranian or Hizballah troops venturing into this part of Syria and telling them to get out. This will no longer be tolerated, say the Iranians.
2. Russian intelligence officers in the field hold regular meetings with their Israeli counterparts and brief them on Iranian/Hizballah movements as data for use in Israeli air strikes.
3. Those briefings extend to more than the regions southwest of Damascus and also cover Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah air defense units in other areas of deployment.
4. Russian forces posted near the Israeli border have begun enlisting local militias for operations against the Iranian and Hizballah presence, handing them cash and guidelines on how best to tackle both forces, which are feeling increasingly isolated and vulnerable.