Hezbollah fighters stand near military tanks in Western Qalamoun, Syria. (photo credit: OMAR SANADIKI/REUTERS)
Iran is the dominant actor in Syria. It dictates the fighting on the ground by the pro-Assad coalition, controls the Syria- Iraq and Syria-Lebanon border crossings, and tailors the re-organization of areas and communities based on an ethnic element. Iran wields much – and often decisive – influence on the pace of fighting, in consultation with Russia and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
A multi-tiered approach – including control of the Syrian central axis, territorial contiguity and logistical and commercial axes – is used by different military groups and militias comprising an Iranian fighting force Israel, which enjoys intelligence supremacy in Syria and is currently ignoring the presence of Iran’s proxies and the other forces under Iranian command in southern Syria.
The Iranian military involvement in Syria, which began in 2012, was designed to save the Assad regime and consolidate Iran’s long-term influence in the country. Discourse on the social media is an important tool in understanding Iran’s method of operation in Syria, its forces and proxies stationed in the country, and the growth of its influence there.