A UNITED NATIONS observer keeps watch over the Syrian border from the Golan Heights, May 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Islamic State was driven out from the last major villages it still held near the Golan Heights – in an area called the Yarmouk Basin – on Monday, according to the Syrian regime and local websites.
The ISIS affiliate group, Jaysh Khalid bin Walid, has held the area for several years but has only clashed with Israeli forces once. In mid-July the Syrian regime, after defeating the rebels near the Golan, attacked ISIS with a major offensive.
Syrian regime media SANA claimed that the last group of ISIS fighters had been defeated in the town of Shajarah. The report indicated that regime forces swept along the Golan border cease-fire fence, pushing ISIS from the villages of Abidin and Maariyah and taking back the whole border area with Israel. On the other side of the ISIS pocket, regime forces forced their way into Qusayr, near a small dam, and attacked Beit Arrah near the border with Jordan. There is a deep valley there and ISIS members were driven from the villages into the bush and wadis.
Intense fighting continues in southern Damascus as the Syrian Army works to remove ISIS, April 30, 2018 (Reuters)
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“The operation was carried out with combat units and special tactics [so] that the terrorist organization lost the ability to maneuver,” the regime said. Suicide bombers tried to target the Syrian soldiers, but were stopped with “heavy losses to equipment and personnel.”
Damascus claimed that in its campaign against ISIS near the Golan Heights it had come across American-made TOW anti-tank missiles, Israeli-made food and “remnants of the so-called ‘White Helmets.’”
The Syrian regime has repeatedly tried to push the narrative that paints ISIS as part of a US-Israeli-Syrian rebel conspiracy created by the West.
The aerial bombardment of ISIS was heavy on Sunday and Monday, with a major bombing of Kuwayah on the Jordan border. Video taken from Israel and Jordan showed smoke billowing upwards as the regime hammered ISIS-held areas.
Local media and online commentators who follow events in southern Syria closely, including Al-Masdar News and SouthFront, also reported that the ISIS pocket had fallen.
Meanwhile, ISIS members in the Syrian desert were reported on Monday to be holding 30 Druze women and children, 16 more than previously thought.
They were kidnapped by ISIS last week during a massacre of Druze in Suwayda and its surrounding villages.
The death toll now is up to 255 Druze civilians. The images of 14 kidnapped Druze women were broadcasted by ISIS over the weekend, but the revelation that 16 children were also kidnapped by the extremists comes from a new report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Several women and children thought to be kidnapped had escaped over the weekend and they were shown on video in a Druze village being greeted by men who had taken up arms to defeat ISIS.
ISIS has threatened to harm the women it has kidnapped if certain demands are not met.
It was thought that ISIS had snatched the women to stop the offensive near the Golan, but with the offensive complete and ISIS defeated near the Golan, its members near Suwayda still hold the women and children.
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