Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

ISIS Advances in Western Daraa, Syria Moving Closer to Rebel Stronghold in Nawa | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Caption:A bombed-out street in Daraa, Reuters

Beirut-Terror group ISIS tightened its grip over swathes of land in rural western Daraa, Syria, recording a sizable advance against rebel-held areas. The progress comes ten days after an ISIS-staged counterattack in south Syria.

Last week, ISIS’ offshoot ‘Jaysh Khaled bin Walid’ launched an offensive to expand their pocket in southwestern Daraa– this assault would prove successful, as they seized several points from rebel forces.

Even though rebel factions affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) considered the ISIS advance to walk hand in hand with regime support it receives, many doubts are stirred by Israel’s off idleness shown towards hardliners drawing near to its borders at the Golan Heights.

Great suspicions are drawn from ISIS extremists managing to procure sophisticated weapons and their supply source.

Field sources confirmed that Jaysh Khaled bin Walid had registered a sweeping advance in western Daraa seizing control over a number of towns, villages and strategic hilltops.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that in the last 24 hours fierce on and off clashes pitted rebels against ISIS hardliners in Daraa western countryside. Accounts of heavy artillery and rocket activity were registered on behalf of both sides.

Jaysh Khaled bin Walid militants had taken control over the hilltop of Tal Al-Jamou.

Ongoing fighting between the two sides over the course of ten days claimed 163 lives of militants, rebels and civilians the observatory added.

Fighting draws closer to the rebel-held Nawa, a Daraa city which is considered the rebel’s key southern stronghold, the observatory added.

The ISIS attack against FSA sites proves positive ties existing between the terror group and regime forces, a cooperation stretching from the south up to the north, FSA official Abu Ahmed al Asimi told Asharq Al Awsat.

“Fighting off the regime cost us 90 lives both of militants and civilians, and over 120 lives in western Daraa,” Asimi added.

Jaysh Khaled bin Walid is formed by a merger of the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, the Islamic Muthanna Movement, and the Army of Jihad, all affiliated with ISIS.