The Syrian Army is preparing to launch a large-scale military offensive in the northern parts of Syria's Hama Province, the Iranian media reports. According to , which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.), the Syrian troops, led by the Tiger Forces and 40th Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division, plan to storm the key towns of Souran and Taybat Al-Imam. Backed by Russian air support, the Syrian forces are reportedly making significant territorial gains in the region.
Comment: The I.R.G.C.-affiliated outlet makes no mention of the role of the I.R.G.C. and Iran-controlled Shiite militia forces in the escalating clashes in the Hama region. But accounts of Syrian casualties in the Iranian press indicate that Iran-backed militia groups – particularly the Afghan Fatemiyoun Division – are heavily involved in the fighting. Several Afghan have been killed in Hama this week alone. Two weeks ago, Iranian Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani was also reportedly in the region. Soleimani apparently the chief of the Tiger Forces there, and perhaps oversaw operations by the Afghan, Lebanese and Iraqi militia forces that are fighting under his command in Syria. The Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite group Harakat al-Nujaba are also fighting alongside the Syrian army to defend against a rebel offensive.