Exclusive – Sound and picture
The past few days witness a big fall back in popularity of IS in Syria. IS lost large areas of Raqqa northern countryside, Hasaka countryside, Kenitra, Dera, and a part of eastern Kalamoon, in addition to a huge decline in supporters, and the large number of defections among its members and some of its leaders inside.
In the recent period, a lot of strategic areas that were controlled by IS were taken from it. In battles lasted for months, YPG and FSA supported by international coalition forces, were able to take back Tal Abiad city and its border gate north of Raqqa city, in addition to Ain Issa, Solok, Qnitry, Ain arus, 39 militery zone. In addition to its loss of several areas in the countryside of Hasaka in Mount Abdul Aziz and Tel tamer. YPG managed to stop IS attack on Ain Al Arab “Kubani” with the help of the coalition forces raids and the entry of Peshmerga reinforcements, which managed, eventually, to defeat IS and liberate large parts of the countryside, which was dominated by IS earlier.
Ibrahim Abdel Qader, one of “Raqqa is being slaughtered silently” group, said to sound and picture: “the decline was surprising, especially in the northern countryside of Raqqa, battles that took place in the countryside of Raqqa were not traditional, rather it was more like a shy skirmish between two parties, IS withdrew from the city of Tel Abiad in 16 / 6/2015 without fighting. YPG with members of Raqqa rebels brigade and liberation brigade, entered that afternoon without any battles except of the coalition raids which targeted IS sites within the city and its edges. Same thing in IS’s sudden withdrawal of Abdul Aziz Mount. IS withdrawal of Abdul Qadir was due to coalition strikes, which cost it losses in lives and equipment”.
While activist Saad, believes that YPG and FSA control over large areas of the countryside north of Raqqa is planned and designed to divide Syria, and to draw a new map of the area. IS retreat was not confined to the north-east of Syria but also in Homs eastern countryside after regime forces progress in jazal area, which is located 55 km northeast of the city of Palmyra, and its loss of Alarke gas field, which was dominated by IS with a number of oil fields in the desert east of Homs. As well as other successive losses in eastern Kalamoon and parts of the Dera. Added to elimination of IS members in the south of Quneitra by opposition factions.
Activist Omar Homsi, said: “IS decline in Homs was because of coalition forces strikes on the north and east of Syria, and the many fronts that IS fighting in, IS is fighting the opposition factions in “Aleppo, Hama, and eastern Kalamoon”,added to the regime forces in Homs, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and Hasaka . It also fights the Kurdish militias in Hasaka and Ain Al Arab countryside (Kubani), as well as its battles in Iraq.
What makes it more difficult is that the fronts were extended over large areas and the lack of sufficient human resources to fill those fronts”.
Homsi, answered a question to Sound and Picture, about IS decline in Qunitra and Daraa, by saying: ” due to being far from IS center in the east of Syria, the difficulty of sending reinforcements and the strength of southern factions, IS factions were eliminated. Both Brigades “Martyrs of Yarmouk and Saraya Al Jihad” in Daraa and Qunitra announced earlier their allegiance to the Islamic State, and killed a number of FSA and Al-Nusra members. This forced southern opposition factions to declare war on them and fight Saraya Al Jihad Brigades. However, southern opposition factions were able to take over large parts of Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade areas in Daraa”.
IS retreat did not confined on land, but also IS witnessed a big drop in its popularity among people, who supported it from the beginning.
Ahmed, from Raqqa countryside, said to Sound and Picture: “I was IS supporter at the beginning of its appearance, I saw it as a faction applies the Islamic law, but after IS revealed its true face, by killing the people of my country, and trying to eliminate the Revolution, I backed away from supporting it. Now I hate this organization and I hope sooner rather than later for its elimination. There are thousands of those who supported IS before, but after the horrific massacres against the Syrian people , turned against it. They now prefer to go out and fight it to recompense their fault in supporting it initially”.
Mosa, from Dier Ezzor countryside, said: “I was one of IS members. IS was able to convince me with its project at first, but after I discovered its criminality and that it was not adopting to the demands of the revolution, I left it. Now I am fighting this criminal organization in the northern countryside of Aleppo after my departure to Deir Ezzor”.
IS members suffer from hesitation and confusion due to IS retreat and decline, causing splits within it, especially in the past few days.
Zaid Fourati, activist from Deir Ezzor, confirmed to Sound and Picture saying: ” there are continues Splits within the organization mostly among its members, Sharia officials , and Financial officers. Such as the split of the Egyptian Zakat responsible in the city of Almayadeen, and the split of more than 17 members in the city, such like Albu Kamal, Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi, “a Sharia official ” of IS in Al Kalamoon, Ammar Haddaoui “clans responsible” in Deir Ezzor, Fourati added that: ” the splits usually happen in secret because of IS members fear for their families or the failure attempts. IS also arrests anyone who thinks of doing this, just like what happened in Raqqa before