CLEANING HOUSE: Jaish al-Islam attempted to purge East Ghouta of a rival rebel faction on Monday, raiding its base and seizing its military equipment in a campaign conducted in the name of “anti-corruption.”
Along with Jaish al-Islam, the strongest opposition battalion in East Ghouta, fighters associated with Jabhat a-Nusra and other rebel groups targeted the Islamist militia Fustat al-Muslimeen in town of Saqba, located in southern East Ghouta outside Damascus.
Fustat al-Muslimeen is a small, local rebel battalion with limited capabilities.
“As remnants of [the Islamic State] prepared itself for a series of assassinations in blessed Ghouta, the lions of Jaish al-Islam counterattacked in the town of Saqba and eradicated them,” said Zahroun Alloush, the leader of Jaish al-Islam, over Twitter on Tuesday.
While opposition groups are clear that the campaign targeted Fustat al-Muslimeen, the Islamic State’s presence in East Ghouta could not be independently confirmed.
The raid comes in the wake of Jaish al-Islam’s defeat of its strongest rival in East Ghouta last month, when it conducted a unilateral campaign against Jaish al-Umma that effectively disbanded the group.
Masked Jaish al-Islam fighters appeared to confiscate the cars of Fustat al-Muslimeen in Saqba, according to pictures posted by the Local Coordination Committee of Saqba on Facebook Tuesday.
The Feilaq al-Rahman battalion, which participated in the campaign with Jaish al-Islam against the Islamists on Monday, also cited the presence of the IS as reason for the purge.
“The raid was followed by fighting that killed four members of Feilaq al-Rahman and three [IS] fighters. The end result was the arrest of 50 members of [IS],” Mohammad Abu Kamel, a spokesperson for Feilaq al-Rahman, told the pro-opposition channel Al-Aan TV.
East Ghouta has been under regime siege for over two years. A week ago, Jaish al-Islam and the regime exchanged a series of deadly attacks between East Ghouta and Damascus that resulted in dozens of civilian deaths.
-February 3, 2015
-Photo courtesy of Tahrir Souri.