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Concerns In South Syria Over Damascus’ Release of ISIS Members

Concerns In South Syria Over Damascus’ Release of ISIS Members

Tuesday, 30 July, 2019 - 06:45
A man drives a motorcycle through a damaged neighborhood in Daraa Al-Balad, Syria June 23, 2015. (File photo: Reuters)
Daraa - Riyad al-Zein
Local sources in southern Syria said that concern prevails in the Yarmouk Basin area, southwest Daraa, over the large number of ISIS members who returned to the area after the Syrian regime started releasing them in batches since early last month.

Most of those ISIS militants were members of the Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Walid, the local ISIS affiliate.

The western Daraa countryside was ISIS’ last stronghold in the area, before the Assad forces took over the Yarmouk Basin, via a military campaign, backed by Russian aircraft and settlement opposition factions in August 2018.

Since then, Daraa has been in a state of security chaos, with hundreds of people arrested, including those who have agreed to the settlements with the regime's forces, which have also obliged many into forced conscription. This has angered several residents, especially the factions that agreed to the settlements.

Activists in the Yarmouk Basin told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that currently, around 1,000 ISIS-affiliated militants returned to the area.

They said that one year ago, when the Assad forces launched its military campaign against the organization, the Syrian regime killed tens of ISIS militants and arrested around 400.

The sources asserted that lately, the Syrian regime has let 80 militants out of prison, including an emir of Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Walid group.

Currently, the area’s residents have expressed concern over the release of the militants, fearing that the regime would benefit from their presence and would claim the existence of ISIS dormant cells to enforce tight security measures on the Yarmouk basin area or to launch large arrest campaigns against residents wanted in the compulsory service.

Few days ago, the ISIS-affiliated Amaaq Agency reported, on Telegram, the group’s responsibility for killing eight Assad forces after clashes erupted last Saturday between ISIS members and the Syrian regime in the town of Maliha al-Atash.

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