Lately, the Islamic State group, Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, has captured several towns and key areas from rebel forces inside the Daraa governorate. Just yesterday, ISIS captured Tasil (Taseel) from rebels, while the caliphate soldiers also managed to inflict casualty upon the local Jabhat al-Nusra leader, “Abu Adham”.
Remarkably, this ISIS group (in Arabic called Liwaa Shahada Al-Yarmouk) also entered the rebel-held towns of Tafas and Muzayrib today as the rebel line of defence seems to have utterly collapsed. Due to ongoing clashes, these towns remain contested as Islamist fighters on both sides continue to battle it out.
Also, some 100 ISIS fighters have entrenched themselves inside the isolated northern districts of the town of Inkhil (north Daraa province).
Meanwhile, the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) 38th Brigade of the 5th Division, the SAA’s 15th Brigade of the 7th Division along with the National Defence Forces (NDF) of Daraa watch all these events from afar without suffering a single casualty.
Despite temporary passiveness, government troops have captured Al-Naymah and Itman suburbs in Daraa city along with the strategic city of Sheikh Miskeen, all within the past two months. Also, with the government capture of 50% the Daraa Al-Balad district (Daraa city) some 40 days ago, insurgents now face losses all across the province of Daraa.
With a ceasefire settled in Geneva, skirmishes in the Daraa governorate have largely halted in the past 30 days. However, ISIS never agreed to peace with any factions and as such, have begun this major offensive mainly against rebels of the Free Syrian Army and Jabhat al-Nusra.
Due to the majority of Islamist rebels being deployed on the frontline with government soldiers, ISIS has been able to attack rebel forces from behind (the west) and capture several key towns with relative ease.
The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade gained attention world-wide when the militia abducted 21 Filipino UN soldiers back in March, 2013. At the time, their fighters were loyal to Jabhat al-Nusra; however, with Abu al-Baghdadi proclaiming the Islamic State caliphate in the summer of 2014, the leaders of Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade were quick to give ba’yah (show allegiance) to the caliph of ISIS.
Thus, the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade is actually spawned out of rebel ranks and was formerly considered part of the Syrian opposition. Now, they intend to expel all rebel forces from Daraa province for good. However, as to link up with ISIS areas in eastern and northern Syria, they must also capture dozens of large towns from government forces that seem completely unwilling to surrender the Daraa governorate to ISIS.
If rebel fighters do in fact experience defeat to ISIS inside Daraa governorate, they will suffer an intolerable blow to their morale as Daraa city represents the very first city which saw protests in all of Syria.