BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:20 P.M.) – The Russian and Iranian armed forces have played an integral role in the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) battlefield success’ throughout this eight-year-long war.
Using their plethora of military advisors, the Russian and Iranian armed forces have been deeply embedded with the Syrian Army along several fronts, including the Idlib, Hama, Aleppo, and Latakia provinces.
With the deployment of their armed forces, there have been several claims about where the Russian and Iranian troops are currently deployed in northwestern Syria.
The Russian military presence in northwestern Syria has been ongoing since early October 2015, while the Iranian Armed Forces have more-or-less been active in this region since 2014.
However, without a doubt, the Russian military makes up the overwhelming majority of foreign troops embedded with the Syrian Army in the northwestern part of the country.
Russian Military Presence
As illustrated above, the Russian military maintains a large presence around the demilitarized zone.
The reason for this large deployment of Russian troops is due to their ongoing agreement with the Turkish Armed Forces.
The September 17th Sochi Agreement between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on all parties in northwestern Syria to adhere to a 20-kilometer-long demilitarized zone around the opposition’s front-lines.
Whether or not this agreement has been successful is up for debate, but, nevertheless, it has paved the way for the Turkish and Russian armed forces to deploy to the front-lines along the demilitarized zone.
In particular, the largest presence of Russian troops stretches from government stronghold of Al-Suqaylibiyeh in northwest Hama to the Abu Dhuhour Crossing in southeast Idlib.
Iranian Military Presence
Unlike the Russian military, the Iranian Armed Forces are deployed to certain parts of the demilitarized zone that have a presence of Hezbollah and Syrian paramilitary factions trained by the IRGC.
The largest Iranian military presence in northwestern Syria is currently near the two Shiite towns of Al-Zahra’a and Nubl.
The Iranian military and their allies helped train the Syrian faction of Hezbollah, the Local Defense Forces (LDF), and the National Defense Forces (NDF) in this region of northwestern Aleppo.
Some other areas with an Iranian military presence are the Hezbollah posts near the Tal Al-‘Eis Crossing (southern Aleppo), Nayrab Airbase (southern Aleppo), and Kurdish Mountains (northeast Latakia).
Similar to the Russians, the Iranian Armed Forces maintain friendly relations with the Turkish military, despite the fact they support different sides of the war.