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In face of protests, Syria, Russia and Iran conduct joint military exercise in Deir az-Zour Open in fullscreen

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In face of protests, Syria, Russia and Iran conduct joint military exercise in Deir az-Zour

Anti-regime protests have risen up in Deir az-Zour in recent weeks [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 October, 2019

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For the first time in the conflict’s history, Russia and Iran joined the Syrian regime to conduct military exercises in the restive eastern province.
Syrian regime forces are conducting joint military exercises with both Russian and Iranian troops west of Deir az-Zour, a new development that may signal a significant change to recent unrest in the east of the country.

Local news sites reported that the exercises, including missile launches and flying maneuvers on empty parts of territory limited to areas currently under regime control.

Opposition media network, DeirEzzor24, reported that this is the first time regime forces have conducted military exercises in the province with both Russia and Iran. It added that the exercises will last for several days and take place only inside areas controlled by the regime in the western part of Deir az-Zour.

The news outlet published videos of the exercises, including footage of the missile launches.

It also showed footage of Deir az-Zour residents protesting for two weeks in a row against the encroaching presence of Syrian regime forces and Iranian-backed militias in many villages along the Euphrates River.

At least two people were killed when regime forces opened fire on protesters on 20 September.

Iranian militias in Deir az-Zour have expelled many Syrians from their homes in several of the province’s villages, leaving between 15,000 to 20,000 civilians homeless and forced to live in makeshift camps run by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Iran, its allied militias and Russia have backed Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in the country's devastating eight-year civil war.

Pro-regime forces in Deir az-Zour are operating with the backing of various foreign armed groups including Iraqis and Iranians.

Meanwhile, the SDF control a swathe of territory further north in the province, which it seized from the Islamic State group in a months-long campaign backed by US-led coalition forces.

The Syrian conflict, which broke out in 2011 with the bloody repression of anti-regime demonstrations, has become a complex war, dragging in regional and international powers and leaving more than 370,000 people dead.

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