BEIRUT, LEBANON (0:45 A.M.) – Lately, rebel forces in Syria’s southern governorate of Daraa have been reduced to a so-called ‘piggy in the middle’ as the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and an ISIS affiliate have tag teamed the armed Syrian opposition, killing at least 300 rebel fighters in the process.
Despite an ongoing SAA offensive in the provincial capital, Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Southern Front factions launched a series of attacks on newly captured ISIS-held rural areas west of Daraa city.
Using a variety of weaponry, including a T-55 tank, D-30 Howitzer artillery, Shilka self-propelled anti-aircraft gun and technicals, HTS and Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups attacked Jaish Khalid ibn al-Walid (ISIS affiliate) at the Yarmouk Basin.
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Preliminary reports suggest ISIS fighters fended off the attack on Tuesday evening after spending the week fortifying its areas in western Daraa.
Jaish Khalid ibn al-Walid, a rebel faction that defected to ISIS in 2014, controls an isolated pocket of some 25 villages in western Daraa, bordering Israel and Jordan. The jihadist group does not share a front-line with the SAA.
If the Syrian Opposition were to take control of the Islamic State enclave and defeat Jaish Khalid ibn al-Walid once and for all, rebel forces would be able to divert over a thousand fighters to the provincial capital and regain the upper hand in the battle for Daraa city.
Meanwhile, rebels in Daraa city detonated a VBIED (car bomb) at the Al-Sinfur barrier while HTS said it had unearthed a 300 meter long tunnel in the Al-Manshiyah district. The tunnel, supposedly built by the SAA, led to government-held residential areas in the Old City.