Driving out the Islamic State from eastern Daraa

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Rebel factions drove back an attack by an Islamic State-affiliated group in Daraa on Tuesday, retaking three villages in the province’s eastern al-Laja region that IS had seized earlier in the day, reported the social media accounts of rebel groups involved in the battle. “Pro-IS fighters advanced at dawn yesterday on the town of Sayah and a Nusra checkpoint, which caused Nusra to request support,” Ahmad Masalaima, a local activist, was quoted by UK-based al-Araby al-Jadeed as saying, noting that a number of Islamist and FSA brigades responded to the request. Pro-IS social media accounts also acknowledged the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigades withdrawal from the area. The attacks from IS affiliated-forces come less than a week after rebel forces announced a campaign to take the regime-controlled city of Izraa in order to cut off regime territory farther south from supplies coming from Damascus and knock out the city’s garrison. The timing and location of the attack have caused some observers to hypothesize that the attack mimics IS advances in the northern Aleppo countryside, which have distracted rebel forces from their campaign to capture Aleppo city.