In a leaked audio recording published by pro-opposition activists on social media, a militia commander loyal to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard in Daraa talked of reversing seizures of property owned by opposition sympathisers if they agree to join pro-Iran militias.
The commander said those whose property had been seized could recover it and have their security status settled if they joined militias loyal to the Revolutionary Guard, and that the offer would expire in two weeks. “Security settlement” is a temporary security pardon for someone who was present in opposition-controlled areas and is granted after an extensive investigation by more than one security body. In most cases it involves a short stint in detention and then military service for men.
The Syrian Ministry of Finance often places executive seizures on properties owned by people convicted in cases brought before the regime’s Terrorism Court. The judicial police can also request the Ministry of Finance to place precautionary seizures on properties of individuals suspected of opposing the regime. Procedures for seizing such properties began on a large scale in 2012 and gradually came to impact most regime opponents from Daraa. A precautionary seizure is meant to prevent the targeted party from disposing of his or her property pending the resolution of a legal dispute resolved, while an executive seizure is a judicial order from a court to seize the properties of the targeted party.
The recent Iranian offer coincides with a decree issued by the Ministry of Defence granting men from Daraa who failed to perform their mandatory military service a full year of deferral. The decree came at the request of Russia, with the aim of restoring a sense of calm in Daraa after a recent wave of violence that threatened to upend the reconciliation agreement there. The Iranian offer also included exempting new conscripts from service within the ranks of formal Syrian regime forces.
Iran has a special interest in southern Syria, as it borders both Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Since the reconciliation agreement in 2018, Iran has conscripted hundreds of young men from southern Syria into pro-Revolutionary Guard militias. In mid-2018, the opposition in Daraa reached an agreement with the regime, under Russian sponsorship, which aimed to stop the fighting and restore all Syrian state civilian institutions in Daraa and Quneitra. The opposition was also supposed to surrender its heavy weapons. Russia pledged that Iranian militias would be kept 80 km from the borders, and that they would not be used to launch any military operations against neighbouring countries. However, the Revolutionary Guard militias often breach these agreements, deploying as small groups embedded with regime forces in the south.
Meanwhile, a trend has emerged of buying land surrounding Revolutionary Guard military bases in the south, especially along the Damascus-Amman highway. Real estate prices have risen in the area, with the price of one hectare of agricultural land reaching SYP 1 billion.
According to a correspondent for The Syria Report in Daraa, local mediators working for the Revolutionary Guard militias were responsible for purchasing agricultural land in the Al-Lajat area near a pro-Revolutionary Guard militia base. Such bases are considered crucial for protecting the drug smuggling trade into Jordan and the Gulf.
Regime forces in Daraa
Source: Russian news agency Sputnik