Last night, hundreds of fighters from a Free Syrian Army (FSA) linked rebel group, Mujahideen Houran, clashed and laid siege upon the northern districts of Inkhil where entrenched ISIS militants have set up camp. One month ago, 150 Islamist rebel fighters in Inkhil pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State in a move which caused increased tentions between the FSA and ISIS in southern Syria. This defector militia is lead by ISIS commanders Ahmad Sameera and Malek Faisal; both of whom originate from Inkhil city.
While these militants, loyal to the Islamic State, did enjoy some preliminary success, they were since forced to retreat to the northern districts of the city while rebel forces occupied the city center and southern districts. For now, rebels seem to have the upper hand.
Upon laying siege on the northern districts of the city yesterday, Mujahideen Houran (FSA) formally requested Ahmad Sameera, Malek Faisal and their ISIS fighters to leave the city. However, both Islamic State commanders quickly refused and throughout the day, many bullets and shells have been exchanged between the hostile parties. Therefore, Inkhil city remains contested for now.
Unknown to many, ISIS actually controls a small pocket inside the western parts of the Daraa governorate which lies on the border with Israel. However, this area is not directly linked with the Islamic State mainland of ar-Raqqah, Palmyra and Deir Ezzor. Therefore, the city of Inkhil marks a significant battle for ISIS in terms of connecting various Islamic State areas.
For ISIS to connect these regions, they must capture Inkhil along with several other cities in southern Syria that are held by rebel forces and government soldiers respectively.