The Syrian Army launched a new combing operation against ISIS cells in the Hama-Aleppo-Raqqa triangle. The operation is supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces. As of now, clashes between the army and ISIS have resulted in the killing of at least 7 terrorists.
In the second half of 2020, ISIS significantly increased its activity in the central desert. ISIS cells reportedly buy supplies, including weapons, from U.S.-backed fighters based in the area of al-Tanf, as well as exploit the lack of control on the Syrian-Iraqi border to receive support from a network of ISIS cells in Iraq.
Meanwhile, sources loyal to Turkish-backed militants claim that the Syrian Army has started mobilizing its forces in the southern part of Greater Idlib. The army has allegedly deployed new reinforcements to the Jurin camp and the town of Shat’ha. Militants claim that these developments are a part of the preparation for an offensive operation on the al-Ghab Plains.
A series of assassinations has targeted personnel of Syrian government forces and civilians in the southern province of Daraa.
On December 21, gunmen shot and killed a warrant officer of the Military Intelligence Directorate and a soldier of the 4th Division in the town of Sahem al-Golan. On the same day, gunmen shot and killed two officers of the Air Force Intelligence Directorate in the town of Dael. On December 22, gunmen shot and killed a member of the 4th Division in the town of al-Yadudah. Later, an IED explosion killed a local state employee, Ismail Musa al-Falah, in the town of al-Sanamayn. Lastly, gunmen killed a civilian and two intelligence officers in the town of al-Ajraf.
ISIS cells are known to be active in the areas, where the attacks took place. Nevertheless, the terrorist group usually claims responsibility for such attacks. Therefore, militant groups supported by Israeli intelligence are more likely suspects in this case.
Recently, Israeli media outlets and think tanks started promoting the idea of military action to stabilize the ‘chaos’ in southern Syria and prevent what Tel Aviv likes to call the growing ‘terrorist threat’ from Iran and Hezbollah. The issue not covered by these reports is that Israel itself and its actions remain the main source of instability there.