Recent clashes between two military forces aligned with Syria's Bashar Assad regime have led to the death of at least 70 Syrian troops and numerous injuries, local sources said yesterday.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Russia-backed Tiger Forces and the Iran-backed Fourth Division had clashed on Tuesday in the village of Al-Rasif in Syria's Hama province.
Despite a truce that was reportedly agreed to last week, the Fourth Division nevertheless managed to wrest Al-Rasif from the Russia-backed group, the sources said, warning that the conflict could spread to the nearby villages of Al-Ramlah and Zawr al-Kabir.
"Russia and Iran both want to dominate the region," Mohamed Rashid, a spokesman for the Gish al-Nasr (a faction of the Free Syrian Army), told Anadolu Agency.
"Russia doesn't want Iran-backed groups deployed along the frontlines with opposition forces," he said.
"Moscow wants to prevent Iran from dominating the [Syrian] army through the use of thousands of foreign terrorists in Syria," he added.
Rashid attributed the ongoing conflict between the two groups to what he described as "financial reasons."
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Bashar Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected severity.