Northern Syria has become the primary focus for every major power involved in this 5 year long Syrian conflict; however, it appears their target, the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), has shifted its attention to the southern province of Dara’a, where a one month long ceasefire is currently taking place between the government and opposition forces.
Undeterred by their recent losses in both northern and central Syria, ISIS is advancing in the southwestern countryside of the Dara’a Governorate, where they have already seized a large chunk of the Israeli and Jordanian borders from the Free Syrian Army’s “Southern Front Brigades” after a few weeks of fighting.
Making matters worse for all non-ISIS parties in the province, the terrorist organization is now 9 km away from the provincial capital of Dara’a after their recent gains, which includes the capture of Sheikh Saad on Thursday.
While, one could argue that 9 km is a considerable distance in military terms; it is not the reality on the ground:
The map above illustrates the Islamic State’s path to Dara’a City from their current positions at the small village of Nahj.
It is not really a question of “if” anymore; it is a question of “when” will ISIS capture the two villages between Nahj and the provincial capital.
The ISIS affiliates “Liwaa Shahada Al-Yarmouk” and “Harakat Al-Muthana” have the manpower needed to capture the aforementioned villages and to attack the Syrian Arab Army’s positions in the western suburbs.
The rebel forces cannot hold their own at this front, but the Syrian Arab Army also cannot wait for the terrorist organization to reach the city.
So, the Syrian government forces are stuck in a bind: launch an offensive to push ISIS back or let them defeat the rebels and threaten Dara’a City.
The procrastination period is over; it will have to be one of those two choices and given ISIS’ rapid advancement in southwest Dara’a, they do not have long.