Differences between Iran and Russia regarding the future appearance of the Syrian army
According to the French bulletin Intelligence online in the article "Damas, tiraille entre milices iraniennes et reassurance russe", during the summit, which took place on August 28, 2017 with the participation of representatives of the General Staff of the Syrian Arab Army, as well as its Iranian and Russian patrons, were Deep contradictions on strategic issues between Russian and Iranian representatives regarding further actions were revealed.
Thus, according to the source of the bulletin, familiar with the course of the talks, this meeting was held in the Syrian Defense Ministry with the participation of the commanders of the Russian and Iranian contingents fighting on the side of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Syrian President's brother Bashar Assad's brother, Maher Asad, who is the commander of the Republican Guard, and Ali Abdullah Ayub, the chief of the General Staff of the Syrian Arab Republic, and Kassem Suleymani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, took part in the meeting. Suleimani fiercely insisted on changing the strategy, which he claims since 2016.
In addition to creating a large paramilitary structure - the Syrian analogue of IRGC, which can be called the "Guard of the Republic", Sulejamni looks forward to the creation of a new autonomous military structure into which the remains of the regular Syrian army will flow. Moreover, Suleymani would like this structure to rely heavily on a militia formation, modeled after the Iranian militia of the Basijs. This militia, which will largely consist of Iraqi Shiites, Afghan Hazaras and members of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, will make it possible to include armed groups from these peoples in the Syrian army.
But during this meeting, Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoy, who is the commander of Russian operations in Syria, strongly disagreed with the Iranian proposal. The Kremlin is a supporter of the approach within which it is planned to preserve the existing structure by re-equipping some of the army corps of the SAA with new technology. In particular, Rudskoy argues for the strengthening of the Syrian land forces by elite units. The Russian general insisted on turning to private Russian military companies for the protection of strategic facilities on Syrian territory. This will free Russian troops for more important theaters of military operations.