Tensions between ISIS and Jaish al-Islam on the rise

YUSUF SELMAN İNANÇ @yusufsinanc
ISTANBUL
Published 26.06.2015 20:03
Updated 26.06.2015 20:07
Jaish Al-Islam members allegedly executed captured ISIS militants in May.
Jaish Al-Islam members allegedly executed captured ISIS militants in May.

After ISIS tried to extend its presence in Syria's south, the group faced Jaish al-Islam, which is programmed to fight against both the regime and ISIS. Recently, ISIS executed 12 members of Jaish al-Islam

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which is at war with every armed group in Syria including the al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front, has released a video, purporting to show 12 rebels wearing orange being executed. "The video shows the 12 men pinned to the ground in an open field and beheaded using small knives. Similar to other Isis execution videos, all the captives are dressed in orange suits to resemble prisoners of the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp," the International Business Times reported.

Some activists on twitter claimed that the 12 men were members of Jaish al-Islam, which operates in Ghouta and Douma, near Damascus and also fights against ISIS near the Qalamoun Mountains. Last month Jaish al-Islam released a similar video purporting to show several ISIS militants being executed. Activists said the recent executions might be for revenge. The video was entitled "Repent Before You Are In Our Hands."

Jaish al-Islam is known for its successful operations against the regime and Hezbollah near Damascus. In an article published in Foreign Policy on Oct. 1, 2013, the group was described as the winning side after unifying more than 50 small groups under its umbrella. Foreign Policy in the same article claims that the U.S. and Gulf countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, have provided aid to the group, based on a report published by the New York Times on March 24, 2013. The article also claimed that the U.S. was hoping that the group would stop the rise of "extremist" groups in Syria. "The formation of the Army of Islam (Jaish al-Islam) in the capital's eastern fringe under Zahran Alloush, leader of the group Liwa al-Islam, strengthens Salafist militants owing allegiance to Riyadh against ISIS," a Reuters report said on Oct. 1, 2013. "While hoping to avoid outright confrontation with fellow militants, the Saudis had been gauging the willingness of local Salafist fighters in joining Saudi-backed formations, including a proposed Syrian National Army," the same report said. In sum, Jaish al-Islam was supposed to both stop ISIS and al-Qaida affiliated groups and to disturb the regime. Neither ISIS nor the al-Nusra Front is effective in the south.

The group is also known as one of the strongest rebel groups in Syria. "For their part, JAI are thought by analysts to command as many as 60 battalions, with around 20,000 fighters – entirely made up of Syrians, according to Saleh, rather than foreign volunteer fighters," according to an article published in Middle East Eye last month. The group has released several videos in which the fighters show off and the group's leader makes roaring speeches. "Zahran Alloush, the group's charismatic leader, is son of the Damascus-based Salafist preacher Sheikh Abdullah Alloush. A religious hardliner, born in the town of Douma northeast of Damascus, he established himself as a leading figure in the Syrian opposition as leader of Liwa al-Islam, famous for a bombing in Damascus in 2012 that killed Syrian Deputy Defense Minister Asef Shawkat and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkman," the article said.

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