South Damascus rebels unite to ‘stave off’ the Islamic State









South Damascus September 2, 2015http://syriadirect.org/news/syria-direct-news-update-9-2-15/Rebels in South Damascus united on Wednesday to fight Islamic State incursions into the area by announcing the formation of a joint operations room after IS tried to take over the al-Qadam district over the weekend. In a statement on its website Wednesday, Ajnad a-Sham promised to fight the “wicked [IS] Kharijites…until we throw them out of our land in the al-Qadam and al-Asaali districts” immediately to the east. Other local rebel groups are included in the alliance, with the exception of Jabhat a-Nusra. “Jabhat a-Nusra [JAN] has no role, since it is an ally of the Islamic State in the area,” Walid al-Agha, a journalist in the nearby south Damascus town of Babila told Syria Direct on Wednesday. “There is a group affiliated with JAN unilaterally fighting alongside Ajnad a-Sham in al-Qadam,” Agha said, adding that a JAN commander had traveled to the district to stop the group from participating with Ajnad but “was expelled from the neighborhood.” The primary goal of the unified operations room is “to confront IS and stave off its attacks” in al-Qadam, al-Agha said. Over the weekend, IS attempted to push west into al-Qadam from its South Damascus base in al-Hajjar al-Aswad, taking a number of buildings in al-Qadam and al-Asaali before being pushed out after fighting with local rebel brigades. It was the second major IS incursion south of the capital since its fighters slipped into Yarmouk camp this past April with JAN acquiescence and took control of it. The new operations room consists of Islamic Union of Ajnad a-Sham, Jaish al-Islam, Aknaf Beit al-Maqdas, Jaish al-Ababeel and other Islamist brigades south of Damascus, Mazen al-Shami, a journalist in the area told pro-opposition Orient FM radio on Tuesday.
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Rebels in South Damascus united on Wednesday to fight Islamic State incursions into the area by announcing the formation of a joint operations room after IS tried to take over the al-Qadam district over the weekend. In a statement on its website Wednesday, Ajnad a-Sham promised to fight the “wicked [IS] Kharijites…until we throw them out of our land in the al-Qadam and al-Asaali districts” immediately to the east. Other local rebel groups are included in the alliance, with the exception of Jabhat a-Nusra. “Jabhat a-Nusra [JAN] has no role, since it is an ally of the Islamic State in the area,” Walid al-Agha, a journalist in the nearby south Damascus town of Babila told Syria Direct on Wednesday. “There is a group affiliated with JAN unilaterally fighting alongside Ajnad a-Sham in al-Qadam,” Agha said, adding that a JAN commander had traveled to the district to stop the group from participating with Ajnad but “was expelled from the neighborhood.” The primary goal of the unified operations room is “to confront IS and stave off its attacks” in al-Qadam, al-Agha said. Over the weekend, IS attempted to push west into al-Qadam from its South Damascus base in al-Hajjar al-Aswad, taking a number of buildings in al-Qadam and al-Asaali before being pushed out after fighting with local rebel brigades. It was the second major IS incursion south of the capital since its fighters slipped into Yarmouk camp this past April with JAN acquiescence and took control of it. The new operations room consists of Islamic Union of Ajnad a-Sham, Jaish al-Islam, Aknaf Beit al-Maqdas, Jaish al-Ababeel and other Islamist brigades south of Damascus, Mazen al-Shami, a journalist in the area told pro-opposition Orient FM radio on Tuesday.