Iran is diverting the course of a land corridor it aims to carve through Syria ultimately linking Tehran, through Iraq, to the Mediterranean coast, in order to avoid a confrontation with US-backed forces marching on the Islamic State group stronghold of Raqqa, according to recent media reports. Opening up the land corridor has been a long-term strategic aim of Tehran.
However The Guardian reported on Tuesday that changing dynamics on the ground have led to the decision to move the corridor 140 miles south. The alteration will ensure that the land corridor does not pass through territory in north east Syria controlled by Washington-backed Kurdish forces, where in recent months, the US has also increasingly amassed a military presence on the ground.
According to The Guardian the alterations have been ordered by Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimaniand Haidar al-Ameri, leader of the Iraqi, majority Shia, Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), or Hashd al-Shaabi.
As war has racked Syria, and Iraq following the emergence of the Islamic State group, Tehran – has sought to carve out geographical pockets of influence in the two states and ensure that they are under its proxies control. Al-Ameri’s PMU have proved crucial to such an agenda in Iraq.
In recent days PMU fighters situated in Tel Afar, north west of Mosul during advances on the IS held town by the Iraqi military, have begun to break out towards the IS-held town of Ba’aj, located south west of Mosul within 100 km of the Syrian border.