DAMASCUS, SYRIA (9:45 P.M.) – In the first documented case of its kind, undercover ISIS militants based in the Idlib Governorate were caught trying to reach the newly established Islamic State enclave in the northeastern countryside of Hama.
On Thursday morning, two ISIS technicals were ambushed during the journey as they attempted to bypass checkpoints established by Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), a rival jihadist faction which dominates most of rebel-held northwestern Syria.
During the ambush, HTS killed all except one ISIS militant who surrendered himself only to be paraded before the camera. In addition, both vehicles were seized intact despite some gunshot holes:
Since the beginning of 2017, HTS has arrested and killed hundreds of Islamic State sleeper cells across rural Idlib in a major crackdown against anyone opposed to its rule.
On October 9 however, ISIS captured its first villages from HTS in northeastern Hama amid a surprise offensive few analysts had seen coming. Despite clashes raging back and forth, the Islamic State pocket has since expanded further and is now made up by over 20 villages, posing an existential threat to the HTS heartland in neighboring Idlib.