I thought about just putting this here: Rebels losing southern Syria

But, this deserves own thread IMHO

Putin just met with two important people: Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, in Moscow for the third time this year, seeking to convince Russia to help push Iran out of Syria

Israel to Russia: Assad's safe from us, but Iran must quit Syria

And Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior emissary for Iran's supreme leader Khemenei, who wants to preserve the "strategic" partnership with Moscow

Iranian Supreme Leader's Adviser Hails 'Very Constructive' Meeting With Putin

With the conflict in Syria coming to a climax, with Daraa and rest of the South now being cleared, and only Idlib and the Kurdish territories left outside of Assad's control, Putin is at a crossroads here.

Previously, he needed Iran's ragtag militias, such as the Fatemiyoun

because they provided the raw numbers of boots on the ground, to compensate for the Assad's regular army's then depleted state.

But, now, on one hand, with so many rebel forces defeated, so much territory recaptured, the threat to Assad has lessened considerably; and, on the other, the Russians, who never did like these Iranian militias made up mainly of Shia religious fanatics little different from Sunni terrorist groups, have been rebuilding the hell out of the regular armed forces of Syria, training their troops


especially the elite Republican Guard, who have become especially tight with the Russians as a result



They have cultivated guys like the general Suhail al-Hassan, who is so loyal to them, he now actually walks around in a Russian army uniform, and is escorted everywhere by heavily armed Russian bodyguards (special forces or elite mercenaries, perhaps)

Russian SOF protect Syrian general

Hassan's Tiger Forces are Russia's number one proxy in Syria, they get their top equipment, including T-90 tanks, as discussed in that above linked thread. Consequently, it is also the Tigers who have led the current offensive in Southern Syria, NOT any pro-Iran forces.

Russian troops patrol in Bosra, Daraa region, now under government control, as a pro-Assad fighter walks by, and civilians who had earlier fled the fighting return to the town

The Russians did not allow Iran anywhere near there, period. By Israel's request on one side, sure. But, I believe, they themselves want to start decreasing Iran's reach and influence in the country.

To that end, funnily enough, pro-Russian and, believe it or not, anti-Iran propaganda is also being spread in Syrian schools now:

Syria’s bond with Russia is a permanent one, but its alliance with Iran may be shakier. That, at least, is the conclusion suggested by an analysis of the official Syrian school curriculum of Bashar Assad’s regime, which found mounting appreciation of Russian culture –– including compulsory study of the Russian language –– but a derogatory view of Iran.

The report was compiled by the research and policy institute IMPACT-se, which has been studying and analyzing official school textbooks since 1998. Researchers Dr. Eldad Pardo and Maya Jacobi examined the official Syrian textbooks for 1st to 12th grade used in the areas controlled by Assad. The purpose of the analysis was to determine whether the textbooks met international educational standards for tolerance, peace and acceptance of others, based on UNESCO resolutions and international treaties. It looked at how the curriculum reflected Israel, Russia, Iran, the civil war, Hezbollah, the West, minorities, national identity and other parameters.

The report found that the Syrian curriculum presents Russia as a close ideological and cultural ally, which could attest to the strengthening alliance between the two countries that is likely to continue after the war. One indication of the tight ties is the requirement that Syrian children learn the Russian language.

“We were very surprised by the Russian element in the textbooks,” Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, told Haaretz. “Russia is portrayed as the closest ally of Syria and of the Arab world,” he said, adding “Russia is going nowhere after the war - it is here to stay.”

Russia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war helped turn the tide in Assad’s favor. But Iran, which has also steadfastly bolstered Assad’s regime, is presented as an untrustworthy regional rival in most textbooks. This could be an indication of the ephemeral nature of that alliance. The negative image extends not only to modern Iran but also to the ancient Persian empire.

Absent from the books is any mention of Hezbollah, the Lebanese organization that is considered one of Assad’s closest allies, and has been helping him in the war.

Israel doesn’t even appear in the textbooks, at least not by name. It is referred to as the “racist/terrorist/Zionist entity.” The curriculum includes anti-Semitic motifs, says the report, such as the stereotypical portrayal of the William Shakespeare character Shylock.

Nor does the curriculum mention the Holocaust of European Jewry. The textbooks describe Israel is a terrorist state, which, among other things, stole the Golan Heights; as a result, the textbooks convey the view that all means of struggle against Israel, including terrorism and suicide attacks, are legitimate.

There is no hope that Syria will tone down its traditional Baathist hostility towards Israel, even after the terrible civil war is over, added Sheff. Syrian rhetoric is unchanged and hostility to Israel remains a key principle in the Syrian curriculum, he said.

Not surprisingly, the report shows that the Syrian textbooks “promote respect and total commitment” to President Bashar Assad and his late father Hafez Assad. The latter is described as a hero, whose son courageously followed in his footsteps. However, the researchers also determined that “There is no excessive personality cult as compared with Iranian education.”
What Syrian Children Learn: Anti-Semitism, Love of Russia and Suspicion of Iran

Kids studying Russian at a Syrian school in Latakia


The Israelis believe that this, above, comes from Assad's own "rivalry" with Iran. I don't. I think this is coming straight from the Russians, who now control the Syrian government, including its education/propaganda system a lot more, and are using it to, on one hand, create and entrench popular support for their own continued involvement in Syria; and also to turn Syrians against Iran, to help them eventually push the Iranians out.

This also explains why the Russians happily tolerate Israel striking the Iranian forces from time to time, helping deplete their ranks and otherwise weaken them.

Eventually, Putin wants all of Syria to himself, including it's oil and other resources. He ain't sharing with Khamenei...