ISIS Gains in South Syria, Giving It a Presence on Israel and Jordan Borders

Secular Rebels Say They're Losing Ground to ISIS, al-Qaeda

Before their disastrously unsuccessful training campaign for rebels in Turkey, the US was training another Syrian rebel faction in Jordan, with an eye toward them taking the south of the country. Interest in the group quickly dried up when their expansion stalled after a few border villages, with most of the gains in the area belonging to al-Qaeda.

Those rebels, affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), report that their western aid has evaporated in recent months, and that they are losing ground across the south, with ISIS in particular advancing around Daraa and Quneitra, giving them a new presence along Syria’s borders with both Jordan and Israel.

Al-Qaeda already controlled most of the area on the immediate frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, but recent Israeli strikes against Syrian military forces in Quneitra mean neither they nor the southern FSA rebels are able to put up much of a fight in advances by the Islamist groups.

The FSA leaders complain that the training program for them, which halted about five months ago, is paying them much lower wages than al-Qaeda or ISIS, noting their fighters earn just $70 a month, compared to $300 for an al-Qaeda fighter or $500 for the well-funded ISIS. They want that, much as with the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade, the FSA forces in the south could start defecting to the rival factions outright if the situation continues to worsen.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.