In late March, alleged IS affiliate Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk (LSY) went on the offensive in southwest Daraa province, breaking out of its pocket of territory sandwiched between Syria’s borders with Jordan and the occupied Golan Heights.
Taking rebel forces by surprise, the Islamist fighting force captured a number of villages and merged their territory with another alleged IS affiliate, Harakat al-Muthanna.
Facing an alliance between the FSA’s Southern Front and the southern Jaish al-Fatah, the Islamist coalition’s victories were short lived.
In mid-April, the rebel alliance, which includes Ahrar a-Sham, Jabhat a-Nusra and Jordanian-backed FSA brigades, rolled back LSY and al-Muthanna’s gains, capturing three villages and four military checkpoints.
In response, LSY began relying heavily on suicide bombers to strike back at its militarily superior adversaries, Syria Direct reported.
Last month LSY and al-Muthanna announced the formation of Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Waleed. The name references the 636 Battle of Yarmouk where Khalid ibn al-Waleed led 35,000 Muslim soldiers against 240,000 Byzantine soldiers.
Outnumbered and cornered in southwest Daraa, Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Waleed, the merged IS-affiliate, continues to rely on assassinations and suicide bombings.
In this Syria Direct dispatch from Daraa, a surrendered LSY operative offers insight into the group’s recruiting and training practices.