Over the last two weeks, a branch of the Assad regime’s Air Force Intelligence has released a number of members of the Islamic State (ISIS), or what was known previously as the Khalid bin al-Waleed Army, who had previously been captured by the regime during military operations against the group at the start of August, which were focused in the Yarmouk basin area, along the Syrian-Jordanian border with the Golan Heights.
The release of these members by the regime comes in light of the complications confusing the military and security scene in southern Syria, as the regime army continues to try to solidify its grip on the area it captured over six months ago, while Iran tries to expand its presence there through various proxy militias.
The same situation faces the Russians, who have imposed their presence by conscripting about 3,000 fighters for the Fifth Corps of the Hemeimeem base. It seems that the release falls within the context of the increasing chaos and security tensions that have been occurring in the region for about a month, and which could help the regime and its allies impose their control over the entire area again.
Alsouria Net’s sources in Daraa said that those released included Maher Kanhoush from the town of Jabab north of Daraa, who was a prominent commander in ISIS and had held an important position in the so-called “Hisbah diwan.”
The released prisoners also included Youssef al-Nablusi, known as Abu al-Baraa, who was previously a general commander for ISIS cells outside the Yamouk basin and was responsible for the first assassinations there.
Sources who asked not to be named for security reasons, said that more than 30 fighters from ISIS, including prominent commanders, were released by a branch of the Air Force Intelligence over the past few days.
The same sources said it is expected those who were released to target checkpoints and regime military barracks, but that attacks would be very limited in scope. The attacks will give the regime’s security branches an excuse to carry out a major arrest campaign. Additionally, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah is looking to clear the area of any weapons by next summer.
Sources added that the main aim pushing the regime to release these fighters may be their desire to rid themselves of the opposition who are still present in the area, and by supporting the group’s released members, they can push them to carry out limited security operations in the interests of the regime and its allies, Iran and Hezbollah.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.