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The resurgence of ISIS has become fact. There can be no denying it or acting as if it’s still an impending event.
Terrorist activities are becoming bolder, as evidenced by ISIS cells ambushing another Syrian Arab Army (SAA) unit in the Homs countryside.
According to the terrorist group’s own information agency, five SAA soldiers were killed in the attack.
Just days earlier, ISIS attacked three phosphate mine posts, which were being defended by Iranian-backed forces, to the east of the town of Khunayfis in southern Homs.
ISIS has ramped up the intensity and frequency of its attacks in central Syria. They are attempting to spread their influence back into the areas of their former self-proclaimed Caliphate. So far, the terrorists haven’t been able to push all that far towards the Hama-Aleppo-Raqqa triangle and western Deir Ezzor.
This could just be a matter of time, however, since they now appear both revitalized and re-equipped.
The SAA and its Russian support are attempting to contain them, so far with relative success.
ISIS is pushing towards the province of Raqqa, and ultimately the city of Raqqa, both of which are currently under the control of the SDF, while Turkish proxies operate in the surrounding area. They are also targetting the SAA and sometimes Russia’s forces.
On February 17th, Turkish forces destroyed a truck of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the northern Raqqa countryside. The SAA are present there to monitor the ceasefire and didn’t respond.
Another push, however, could be coming from northwestern Syria – from Idlib. Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the ruling group in the region, has just released US journalist and propagandist Bilal Abdul Kareem.
The propagandist, who had been detained because of a conflict with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, was released as a result of a plea from a group of Atimah locals and public figures.
This could potentially lead to a more united terrorist front in Idlib, which might possibly receive U.S. support. The Biden Administration recently started talking about “moderate opposition” again, claiming that HTS has reformed and is no longer affiliated to al-Qaeda.
The Syrian Arab Army is caught between the hammer and the anvil. The government is attempting to consolidate power and contain ISIS in the central region, HTS and other terrorists in the northwest, and Turkish proxies in the northeast.
On February 17th, a slight spark of hope came from the Russian-brokered prisoner exchange between Syria and Israel, but this does not mean that tensions between the sides will be calming in any significant way.
A de-escalation with Israel will only be possible when Tel Aviv drops its primary policy of destabilizing and undermining the sovereignty of Syria, in order to hamper Iran’s influence.