At the end of December 2021, the Iranian-sponsored Shiite Fatemiyoun militia received military ground and air assistance from Russian forces in the Palmyra area. As far as we know, the Russian “Wagner” force (a special force made up of mercenaries under the auspices of the Russian army) and Russian helicopters helped the Fatemiyoun militia fend off an attack by unidentified elements – probably ISIS – on militia outposts southeast of Palmyra.
Russian aid included fire assistance and rescue of casualties. To our understanding, this is an exceptional event, as it is direct ground assistance combined with the evacuation of the wounded by helicopters. As part of the joint fighting against ISIS, most of the Russian aid (at least visible) has been in airstrikes and the presence of military advisers only.
The Russians have previously made it clear to the Shiite axis that they will cooperate only against ISIS. Apparently, the cooperation is increasing. It is also possible that joint coordination of the Russian army and Iranian militias has been established in the western part of the Deir ez-Zur district. The Russians will be able to establish bases in the area, and Shiite militias will also be allowed to cross east of Perth in northeastern Syria as long as they are under the Syrian regime’s flag.