PV Desk : A Russian force deployment on the Syria-Lebanon border this week in a Hezbollah stronghold sparked protests by the Lebanese militant group, prompting the force to withdraw from its positions only a day later in a rare sign of tension between the allies.
The Russian move was not expected as Moscow’s military police have been deploying in areas controlled by Syrian government forces and close to insurgent positions. The outskirts of the Syrian town of Qusair where the Russian troops set up three observation positions on Monday have been held by Hezbollah and Syrian troops since 2013, when they drove rebels from the area.
The Russian deployment and subsequent withdrawal shows that as rebels are being defeated in different parts of Syria, frictions could rise between Assad’s main foreign backers — Russia and Iran — and the militias Tehran backs throughout Syria.
“They came and deployed without coordination,” said an official with the so-called “Axis of Resistance” led by Iran, which includes Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and other groups fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces.
“It’s better if they don’t come back. There is no work for them there. There is no Daesh or any other terrorist organization,” the official said, referring to the Islamic State group and other insurgents that the Syrian government and its allies call terrorist organizations. “What do they want to observe?” he asked.
Asked if there is tension between Hezbollah and Russian troops, the official refused to comment, speaking to the Associated Press by telephone from Syria on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters. He said that after the Russian troops left, Syrian forces belonging to the army’s 11th Division replaced them.