Islamic State loses ground to Syrian rebels in Damascus suburb

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Syria rebels are seen in clashes with ISIS militants north Syria. File photo

ARA News 

Damascus Subsequent to clashes with the Islamic State (ISIS) radical group, the Syrian armed opposition on Sunday captured new areas in the vicinity of the capital Damascus.

Clashes broke out between ISIS and Syrian rebel groups in the Eastern Qalamoun District of Damascus countryside, after the latter launched an offensive on ISIS’ positions in the area. 

“Rebel fighters hit ISIS positions with mortar shells and heavy artillery, killing and wounding a number of the group’s fighters,” media activist Louay al-Amer told ARA News in Damascus.

According to rebel source, fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) seized control of three ISIS security checkpoints in the Eastern Qalamoun District.

At least seven ISIS militants and four rebel fighters were killed in the clashes.

“This progress was a result of a strategic operation by the rebel forces against Daesh terrorists,” rebel spokesman Khaled Abdulrahman told ARA News, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

“ISIS has been trying to expand its areas of control in Damascus suburb, but our forces won’t allow this terrorist group to make any gains. Soon they’ll be expelled from the entire province, and we’ll continue our struggle against the Assad regime and its militias,” the rebel official said.

On October 23, the Islamic State (ISIS) threatened to invade Damascus, Syria’s capital city. ISIS said that their invasion was imminent and vowed to strike at Syrian security forces and the armed opposition.

“Fighters of the Caliphate are preparing to enter the heart of al-Sham [Damascus],” the extremist group said in a statement. In the same statement, ISIS promised to apply the Islamic State’s puritanical interpretation of Sharia law throughout the capital. 

ISIS has been in control of a residential block in southern Damascus since it drove out al-Qaeda-splinter group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and allied rebel factions, in April 2015. Jahbat Fateh al-Sham was previously known as Jabhat al-Nusra. 

Al-Hajar al-Aswad neighbourhood is believed to be the Islamic State’s primary staging area. Their militants also control the nearby Yarmouk and Tadamun districts. 

ISIS has accused the rebel groups in Damascus of working on behalf of Assad’s government and being apostates. “The time has come for the Caliphate’s fighters to take al-Sham [Damascus] from the infidels and their mercenaries,” the extremist group said.

Reporting by: Laila Majdalawi and Haytham Mustafa | Source: ARA News

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