ISIS Fights Rival Rebels, Nearing Heart of Syrian Capital

Civilians Flee as Battles Grow in Southern Damascus

After taking their first territory in Damascus yesterday, ISIS looked to expand even deeper into the Syrian capital city today, picking a fight with rival Islamist rebels in the Asali neighborhood of southern Damascus, advancing significantly in the area.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the latest moves put ISIS closer to the heart of Damascus than at any time before, though the Syrian military said they were “very happy” to see ISIS and the other Islamist rebels in the area fighting one another.

The military tried to play up the situation, also insisting that they were “ready to react” if ISIS makes any move at government-held territory, but the fighting is sending civilians in the surrounding area fleeing, and raising concerns that the capital is about to erupt in full-scale war.

Though ISIS and other groups have carried out suicide attacks and other bombings in Damascus, they’ve never previously made any real attempts to move into the city itself, as the Syrian military was seen as having it so heavily defended it just wasn’t a practical target.

That ISIS is making this move adds credence to the concerns about the Syrian military, facing so many losses elsewhere in the country, growing weaker, and will doubtless raise concerns from Western nations that the Assad government might be facing an outright loss to ISIS, something they’ve often called a “worst-case scenario.”

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.