The situation in Deraa province worsened after a group close to ISIS launched a surprise attack on the Syrian rebels killing more than 130 people in three days, at the same time as Assad regime’s airstrikes are still pounding the rebel-held areas in the province.
The clashes pit the Khaled Ben al-Walid Army, which pledged allegiance to ISIS last year, against Islamist rebel groups including the influential Ahrar al-Sham faction, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
At least 132 people, including both rebels and civilians, had been killed in the fighting that raged in Daraa province near the border with Jordan and the buffer zone before the Israel-occupied Golan Heights.
The Khaled Ben al-Walid Army sparked the clashes with an attack on rebels in the west of the southern province.
The pro-ISIS group has since seized three areas including Sahem al-Jolan near the border and a hill overlooking the rebel-held town of Nawa.
The Khaled Ben al-Walid Army “wants to extend its influence in the strategic triangle between Daraa (city), Jordan and the Golan,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The extremist group released several photos from their offensive in the southwestern countryside of Deraa on Tuesday, showing off dead rebels and captured vehicles near the village of Tasil.
Since launching this surprise offensive in the southwestern countryside of the province, ISIS-affilate has taken control of several villages and hilltops from the Free Syrian Army, making this operation their most successful assault they have had in southern Syria since 2015.
ISIS controls a small enclave along the border with Israel and Jordan that is not directly connected to the Islamic State mainland. This area is composed of around 20 towns and villages under Jaysh Khaled bin Waleed command.
In March 2016, ISIS launched an offensive on the very same villages and towns but was kicked back by rebel forces the next month.
Jaysh Khaled bin Waleed was formed after the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade and the Islamic Muthanna Movement merged last year. These groups defected from the Syrian Opposition in 2014.
The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.