DAMASCUS, SYRIA (9:40 P.M.) – On Friday afternoon in the Syrian capital, Jaish Al-Islam conducted a rare operation behind Islamic State lines in the Yarmouk pocket which saw Islamist shock troops raid an Islamic State base in the Al-Zain district, located between the larger Yalda and Hajar Al-Aswad neighborhoods.
According to a rebel source, the Jaish Al-Islam unit snuck into two buildings and shot dead three ISIS militants while forcing a fourth combatant to surrender on the spot. The surprise operation also saw Jaish Al-Islam seize a batch of weaponry and ammunition from the ISIS garrison which was caught completely off-guard.
Minutes later, Jaish Al-Islam withdrew from the strong point after skirmishes erupted with nearby ISIS militants whom had heard the initial gunfire. Nevertheless, the buildings were demolished by bombs hastily planted by the Saudi-backed Jaish Al-Islam before its fighters withdrew from the area.
Recently, nearly 100 militants from Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) agreed to evacuate from the Yarmouk Camp and surrender control of their residential areas to the SAA. Shortly after, ISIS launched an attack on the Al-Qaeda linked HTS to prevent the deal from taking place.
Jaish Al-Islam, ISIS and several Free Syrian Army (FSA) contingents have not yet agreed to evacuate from the Yarmouk pocket despite persistent enquiries by the SAA leadership which hopes to fully liberate Damascus before the end of the year.
With Al-Qaboun and Barzeh virtually under government control, the SAA is likely to deploy its elite 42nd Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division to seize control of the Yarmouk pocket by force.