Iraq News

FSA factions take on ISIS, allies in rural Daraa

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo


Members of the Free Syrian Army factions taking part in the ‘Fateh al-Futouh’ operation against the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' and its allies are pictured before they headed to battle on July 5th. [Photo courtesy of Yasser al-Turkmani]

Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions fighting on the southern front have formed a unified operations room and are battling the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) and its allies in rural Daraa province.

The new 'Unified Line Operations Room' aims to liberate the entire Yarmouk basin and rural Daraa region, said Yasser al-Turkmani, an officer of the Liwa Tawhid Kataeb Horan faction that is taking part in the ongoing operation.

The participating factions launched the 'Fateh al-Futouh' battle with the aim of eliminating the presence of ISIS in the region, along with Jaish Khalid ibn al-Waleed, a group that has pledged allegiance to it, he told Diyaruna.

The operation is specifically targeting the Yarmouk basin, west of the city of Daraa, the town of Adwan, north of Daraa, a military outpost that once belonged to the Syrian army, known as Military Unit MD and Ashtara hill, he said.


The first shots of the ‘Fateh al-Futouh’ operation against ISIS and its allies were fired on July 5th in rural Daraa. [Photo courtesy of Yasser al-Turkmani]


Free Syrian Army Factions taking part in the ‘Fateh al-Futouh’ operation against ISIS and its allies gather in rural Daraa. [Photo courtesy of Yasser al-Turkmani]

The second phase of the operation will aim to liberate the areas that Jaish Khalid ibn al-Waleed captured after pledging allegiance to ISIS, including Sahem, Tasil and Tal al-Jumou, he added.

Military assault under way

The operations room was formed at the beginning of July, al-Turkmani said, and military operations commenced at dawn on July 5th with an assault on the towns of Jillen and Sahem and on Military Unit MD.

"Jillen is one of Jaish Khalid ibn al-Waleed’s key strongholds, as it is where the group’s command headquarters is located," he noted.

FSA factions taking part in the battle include Jaish al-Thawra, Jaish Tahalof al-Janoub and the Nawa Military Council, he said.

"Each of the participating factions includes a large number of sub-factions and brigades, which are trying to unite under a unified command," he added.

"They have largely succeeded in this as the command is presently confined to these three clusters," al-Turkmani said.

'The right time' to eliminate ISIS

In the days ahead, al-Turkmani said, ​​rural Daraa will witness successive efforts to eliminate any presence of ISIS or its allies, who control a large number of strategic posts and towns, including the villages of Jamlah, Aabdeen and Kowaya.

ISIS and its allies also control al-Qusayr, which is close to Jordan, he said, and the town of Hayt, which they have besieged for some time.

"Jaish Khalid ibn al-Waleed is directed on the ground by ISIS emirs who came to the area to supervise the preparation and direction of its battles," he noted.

"This is the right time to take on and eliminate ISIS and its allies in the region in light of battles being fought against the group in al-Raqa," al-Turkmani said.

Additionally, he noted, Jaish Khalid ibn al-Waleed lost its top commander, Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi, along with a number of its first-line commanders two months ago in an airstrike on the town of al-Shajra.

The group then lost its new commander, Mohammed Refaat al-Rifai, and another group of commanders in the town of Jillen, he said.

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