The pro-Bashar Assad Iranian forces, made up of a mixture of Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and proxy groups from across the Middle East, have so far captured 22 areas and attempted to occupy energy resources in the city, held by Syrian Resistance groups, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), but they were prevented from going further because of the US airstrikes.
The Iran-backed pro-Assad militias were forced to retreat back to regime-controlled areas, after their supplies were devastated by American warplanes in the district of Salihiye, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
This echoes a previous attempt, in February, by the Iranian forces to capture Deir Ez-Zor and occupy its oil and natural gas resources, which was again stopped by US airstrikes.
Late last week, the Iranian militias clashed violently with the PKK and PYD, when the militias piled ammunition in the district of Salihiye and launched rockets at Conoco gas field.
Since last September, the energy-rich areas of Syria, like Deir Ez-Zor, Raqqa and Al-Hasakah, have been transferred to the PYD/PKK by the US as ISIS lost ground in Syria. While in October, the PYD/PKK took over several energy facilities in Deir Ez-Zor, including a Conoco gas plant and the Al-Omar and Jafra oilfields.
Oil facilities in eastern Deir Ez-Zor, including Afra, Taanah and Azraq, make up just over 30% of Syria’s overall energy reserves, which is why everyone wants to control it.
Who want to take control and why ?
Iran and its proxies are determined to keep Bashar Assad in power, which means that the axis powers (how Iran described itself, Russia, and Syria) want to take back the areas that are likely to make money. After all, Iran and Syrian Regime are nearly bankrupt after this seven-year-long civil war.
There is also the matter of Russia wanting to establish a military base in the Deir-Ez Zor area to monitor the US forces in neighbouring Iraq.
Iran also wants to turn this area into a secret border crossing between Syria and Iraq to make it easier for Iran to covertly supply its proxy terrorist militias (Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis) across the Middle East, which is why they tried to take the area in 2017.