Rebel forces were caught completely off-guard overnight when hundreds of ISIS militants infiltrated the southwestern countryside of Daraa, capturing 5 sites (2 towns, 2 villages and 1 hill) in a huge blitz offensive in the region.
After initially targeting the towns of Tseil (Tasil) and Sahm Al-Joulan (Saham al-Jawlan), the ISIS-affiliated ‘Jaysh Khaled bin Waleed’ continued to attack and subsequently impose full control over the villages of Jellen (Jaylan), Adwan (Edwan), and the Al-Jomuaa hill on Monday morning.
The sites were reportedly poorly defended after Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (jihadist coalition) and Southern Front (Islamist coalition) redeployed hundreds of rebel fighters to Daraa city in recent weeks for its ‘death over humiliation’ offensive against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
If one is to believe Amaq Agency, 20 rebel fighters were killed during the advances.
Effectively, ISIS is now less than 10 kilometers from reaching government-held areas in Daraa province and some 15 kilometers from the provincial capital of Daraa.
Now, the two rebel coalitions must either call off their Daraa city offensive against the SAA or face the looming possibility of conceding more villages to ISIS in the hours to come.
ISIS controls a small enclave along the border with Israel and Jordan that is not directly connected to the Islamic State mainland. This area is composed of around 20 towns and villages under Jaysh Khaled bin Waleed command.
Jaysh Khaled bin Waleed was formed after the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade and the Islamic Muthanna Movement merged last year. These groups defected from the Syrian Opposition in 2014.
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