Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

ISIS Reaping Benefits of Syria’s Nationwide Rifts, Boosting Positions | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Graffiti (R) sprayed by ISIS militants which reads ”We remain” is seen at theTemple of Bel in historic city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate, Syria April 1, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Beirut- Terror group ISIS fights defending its self-declared caliphate in each of central Syria in Homs Governorate, east of the country in Deir Ezzor, not to mention its stronghold in the northeastern town of al Bab, bordering Turkey, and Aleppo’s Raqqa.

Even though mass efforts are poured into rooting out the extremist body, they all are countered by the melting pot of agendas pushed forward by forces embattled in Syria.

Disproportionate policies adopted by the fighting powers has played greatly to the benefit of ISIS, with some experts citing incidents in which the terror group holding the means to securing and purchasing arms from the authoritarian.

The Turkey-led Operation Euphrates Shield has indeed been registering advances against the ISIS-held al-Bab, as well as Kurdish militias backed by the U.S.-led international coalition pressing forward against extremists in Raqqa. But all that is but lay to waste, countered to a tee, with ISIS only anchoring its forces further in Deir Ezzor and Palmyra.

It would seem that regime forces in Syria draw their strong points from several factors, says Professor Riyad Qahwaji at the Gulf Center for Strategic Studies think tank.

ISIS is in preparation for a new phase, repositioning its strengths inside Syria, and Iraqi territory bordering Syria—the group now is over-preparing for a brutal retaliation after losing Mosul in Iraq, Qahwaji told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Most of ISIS’ acquired weapons are Syrian Army artillery, reaching the hands of extremists after corrupt regime officers putting them up for sale,” he said.

“The case is especially probable now that most of the regime-aligned Syrian Army degenerating into a large group of militias,” explained Qahwaji.

The think tank member added that ISIS hardliners have crossed Iraqi-Syrian borders freely through regime-controlled checkpoints by the simple means of hefty bribes paid to regime intelligence officials.

“Isn’t it odd that a full-fledged army (Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Army) would flee Palmyra leaving behind heavy artillery, giving ISIS an easy pass to controlling the city?,” Qahwaji wondered.

ISIS hardliners recaptured Palmyra from Assad’s troops last December, after only nine months of being driven out of the city.