Syria regime recruiting tribal fighters after huge IS losses
Around 400 members of local Arab tribes in Syria's Deir az-Zour region have been recruited by the National Defence Forces (NDF), a coalition of militias allied to Bashar Assad which make up a large proportion of the regime's fighting force.
Analyst Abdallah Asaad told Arabi21 said that the new recruits will be used to battle IS in its last remaining strongholds in Deir az-Zour and the Raqqa countryside.
Syrian Tribes and Tribes Council commander, Mudhar Hammad Al-Asaad, told the website that the NDF is looking to build up its presence in eastern Syria with Iran also seeking to recruit more locals into their forces.
Despite IS losing its territories in Syria and Iraq, the group remains a potent threat in Deiz az-Zour and Raqqa, carrying out deadly raids and ambushes on Syrian regime and Kurdish military personnel, as well as civilians.
In February, IS launched an assault on regime positions in Hama province, killing 19 members of an Iran-linked militia, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
Also in February, the UK-based Observatory said an ambush in Deir az-Zour led to "large human losses", after IS militants ambushed a regime convoy.
Another IS assault on regime positions in December left around 37 soldiers dead, according to the Observatory.
Many of the regime forces that operate in eastern Syria are linked to Iran, but there is a growing presence of Russian-led fighters in the area.
Russia has brought in 300 fighters from the southern region of Daraa to beef up its presence in the resource-rich east.
Both Russia and Iran are seeking to strengthen their forces in the Deir az-Zour province along the Iraqi border.
IS controlled much of eastern and northern Syria during the Syria war, until a US-backed force of Kurdish and Arab tribes took back the territories.
The Iran-aided Syrian regime managed to carve out some territories in the east during the anti-IS campaign and is locked in tensions with US-backed Kurdish forces for control of oil and gas-rich lands in the region.