Just 8km north of the Jordanian border, in a small river valley in southwestern Daraa province known as the Yarmouk Basin, militants belonging to an ISIS affiliate control have imposed their brutal rule on the area. This group is known as Jaish Khaled bin al-Waleed, named after the 7th century military commander who led the Rashidun Caliphate to victory in modern-day Syria. The group controls an area of approximately 150 sq. km, between the Golan Heights to the east and the Jordanian border to the south.
Jaish Khaled bin al-Waleed follow the same oppressive ideology as ISIS use the same brutal tactics to crack down on dissent and persecute minorities. The group enforced a strict form of sharia law, forcing women to wear the niqab and long, loose clothing and men to grow long hair and beards, and wear loose trousers. Executions were carried out regularly for the most simple transgressions.
In recent days, there have been renewed clashes in the Yarmouk Basin. Tjis came after Jaish Khalid Ibn al-Walid launched an offensive on the Free Syrian Army (FSA)-affiliated Southern Front. As a result, the militants reportedly took control of a number of villages including Bakar, Jabiliya and Harat al-Majahid.
However, soon after, the FSA reportedly took back Jabiliya, while engaging in heavy fighting against the group in the other villages. Jaish Khalid Ibn al-Walid launched a year ago, where they initially took territory but were pushed back by opposition fighters.
The situation in southern Daraa has largely been static with minimal territorial shifts. Despite ISIS’ weakened presence in Syria, the group continues to be a threat to the lives of innocent people and still posses the capability to launch regular attacks attacks. The attacks have led to thousands of people fleeing from southern Daraa to unorganised and makeshift camps.
Despite the difficulties, the Southern Front continue to push slowly to uproot ISIS from the province of Daraa.