Ukrainian forces made confirmed advances in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and made claimed advances south of Bakhmut on September 9. Geolocated footage published on September 9 shows that Ukrainian forces advanced northwest of Novomayorske (18km southeast of Velyka Novosilka) along the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border, where Russian sources claim fighting has intensified in recent days. Additional geolocated footage published on September 9 shows that Ukrainian forces also advanced northeast and east of Novoprokopivka (13km south of Orikhiv) and west of Verbove (20km southeast of Orikhiv) in western Zaporizhia Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces achieved unspecified successes south of Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv). A Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces forced Russian forces to withdraw from Andriivka (9km southwest of Bakhmut), and another prominent milblogger claimed that Andriivka is now a contested “gray zone.” Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces also achieved unspecified success south of Klishchiivka.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) redeployed “hundreds” of Iranian-backed militants from eastern Syria to northwestern Syria in response to mounting tensions with Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) and other anti-regime militias. These militants came from the Fatemiyoun Division, which is an IRGC-controlled Afghan Shia militia that has fought extensively throughout Syria. The IRGC sent the Fatemiyoun fighters to Syrian Arab Army (SAA) positions in Aleppo, Homs, and Latakia provinces, according to Syrian opposition media. These deployments occurred as fighting between HTS and pro-regime forces has intensified in recent weeks. Recent HTS attacks against the SAA have caused an unusually high number of casualties compared to previous attacks.
Russian forces have reportedly made notable changes to their command and control (C2) in Ukraine to protect command infrastructure and improve information sharing, although Russian force deployments are likely still exacerbating issues with horizontal integration. Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) Deputy Director of Analysis Magarita Konaev and CSET Fellow Owen Daniels stated on September 6 that Russian forces moved headquarters out of range of most Ukrainian strike systems and have placed forward command posts further underground and behind heavily defended positions. It is unclear if Russian forces have employed this more protected command infrastructure throughout Ukraine and to what degree these defensive efforts have impeded Ukraine’s ongoing interdiction campaign. Konaev and Daniels stated that Russian forces have improved communications between command posts and units at the front by laying field cables and using safer radio communications. The Royal United Services Insitute (RUSI) stated on September 4 that Russian forces are also trying to improve signals through the wider use of application-based C2 services that require less training. Konaev and Daniels noted that signals at the battalion level downward are still often unencrypted and that Russian personnel still frequently communicate sensitive information through unsecure channels.
Rival Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) factions met and demonstrated their first sign of reconciliation after eight months, which indicates the TTP is trying to reduce internal tensions. A TTP faction could defect to the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) as ISKP positions itself as an alternative to the TTP.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has sent over 60 Iranian-backed militants to Daraa Province to prevent the expansion of the ongoing, anti-Syrian regime protests in southern Syria.
Leaders from Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad met in Beirut and echoed Iranian leaders’ calls for greater cooperation among these groups against Israel.
Iranian authorities are continuing to take measures to deter and prevent anti-regime protests ahead of the anniversaries of Mahsa Amini’s death and the “Bloody Friday” incident on September 16 and 30, respectively.
Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on September 7 and made further gains on both sectors of the front. Geolocated footage published on September 7 indicates that Ukrainian forces have made further advances northwest of Verbove (18km southwest of Orikhiv) in western Zaporizhia Oblast. A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces made further advances in the area and other milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces temporarily advanced to the northwestern outskirts of Verbove on September 6, likely indicating further recent Ukrainian advances northwest of the settlement. Satellite imagery collected on September 6 shows burning foliage in a tree line roughly a kilometer northwest of Verbove, suggesting that Russian forces are firing on advancing Ukrainian forces in the area. Geolocated footage published on September 7 indicates that Ukrainian forces have made marginal gains northwest of Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut). The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces achieved unspecified successes south of Bakhmut and near Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv) and Verbove in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
Anti-regime protests have grown and become more organized in Suwayda Province while declining in the rest of Syria. Suwayda Province has become the well-organized center of the anti-regime protest movement as organizers demonstrate a greater ability to direct and sustain constant demonstrations and issue new demands. ISW recorded two instances of limited regime intimidation in Suwayda Province such as threats and firing into the air throughout the movement. Regime suppression and a lack of organizational networks outside the province have resulted in a decline in protest span, frequency, and turnout, however. ISW recorded 11 protests in the rest of regime-held Syria between August 29 and September 4 compared to 43 during the previous week. This updates ISW’s assessment that anti-regime protests are gaining traction in Syria and that the protests could expand during the coming weeks.
Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut and western Zaporizhia Oblast directions and have made gains in western Zaporizhia Oblast as of September 6. Geolocated footage shows that Ukrainian forces have advanced along the trench line west of Verbove (about 20km southeast of Orikhiv), and the Ukrainian General Staff stated that Ukrainian forces achieved unspecified successes in the Robotyne—Novoprokopivka direction south of Orikhiv. The Ukrainian General Staff additionally reported that Ukrainian forces are continuing successful offensive operations south of Bakhmut.
Russia directed local tribes to attack the US-led International Coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in eastern Syria likely part of a coordinated effort with Iran and the Syrian regime to expel the United States from Syria.
Iranian-backed militias relocated personnel and military equipment to southern Syria from Deir ez Zor on September 4, possibly to secure the Syrian regime as anti-regime protests continue.
Iranian protest organizations are planning demonstrations to commemorate the regime’s killing of Mahsa Amini on September 16 and may generate protest turnout across Iran. The regime is taking steps to preempt protests that commemorate the death of Mahsa Amini and will likely crack down on demonstrations that occur.
Senior Iranian officials outlined the regime’s policy perspective on Iran-Turkey bilateral relations during their meetings with Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Hakan Fidan in Tehran on September 3.
Syrian regime forces are financially exploiting the displacement of civilians amid clashes in Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-controlled territory.
The deteriorating economic and security situation in eastern Syria may fuel anti-Syrian regime sentiment.
Russia provided at least two Yak-130 combat trainer aircraft to Iran, which could presage the delivery of more advanced, Russian-made Su-35s to Iran. The acquisition of Su-35s may enable Iran to more readily and independently project air power.
The Ebrahim Raisi administration closed a major reformist outlet, silencing a prominent critic of him and his foreign policy of expanding cooperation with Russia. This move will further reinforce the dominance of hardline voices over the Iranian information space.