Russia has demanded that Iranian militias withdraw from military positions west of the Syrian province of Hama and from other positions in central and western Syria to prevent them from being targeted by Israel, Asharq al-Awsat reported on Friday.

Three Russian officers and their Iranian counterparts made the demand at the Hama Military Airport in central Syria on Aug. 31, according to the London-based Arabic daily. The reason for the directive is that Russia wishes to avoid the militias being targeted by Israel, the report stated.

“Russian officers informed the Iranian side of the need to evacuate Iranian military headquarters near the site of Regiment 49, which belongs to the Syrian regime forces,” a source told the news outlet.

The Regiment 49 site is one of the top military sites in western Hama as it houses long-range, Russian-made S-200 missiles as well as other Russian-manufactured equipment, according to the report.

“The Russian officers also demanded that the Iranians evacuate a second Iranian military site in the Hamidiya area, south of Tartus governorate on the Syrian coast,” the source added.

Iranian militias manufacture and develop weapons at these sites, including short-range missiles, according to Asharq al-Awsat.

The demand comes after Israel recently struck the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), a Syrian weapons installation, near the city of Masyaf in the country’s northwestern region on Aug. 25.

According to Ynet, Masyaf has become the principal production facility for Syrian and Iranian precision missiles and rockets used by Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militias.

Iranian missile and rocket components arrive regularly via the nearby Syrian seaport of Tartus and are stored in vast underground bunkers at this installation, according to the report.


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