The ISIS extremist group took control of large parts of eastern Qalamoun northeast of Damascus following the mass forced displacement of the local population by the Assad regime and its Russian ally.
Local activists said that ISIS militants took control of the Bair Al-Afaa’i and Zabda hills in the Mahassa area in eastern Qalamoun, days after the local rebel groups left the area.
A few days after the mass forced displacement of residents of eastern Ghouta, new forced displacement operation began in the eastern Qalamoun region last week. Activists said that the Assad regime and Russia used the same tactic to force the local population out of their homes, namely by threatening to carpet bomb the area with various types of internationally prohibited weapons.
ISIS has recently shown up in the region in coincidence with increasing threats from the international community to punish the Assad regime for the war crimes it is committing in Syria, the latest of which was the April 7 chemical weapons attack on the town of Douma.
The Coalition said that by allowing ISIS to resurge in Syria, the Assad regime seeks to cover up its crimes and drew attention away from them.
Activists in eastern Qalamoun said the reemergence of ISIS militants in the region was surprising, pointing out that the gains they made came at the expense of the regime forces after mock battles. ISIS’s latest advances raises doubt about a new deal reached between the two sides, activists added. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)