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Monday, April 16

ISIS doing fine behind U.S. lines in Syria

March 10, Al Masdar News:
BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:47 A.M.) – The Syrian Army has discovered and engaged Islamic State units inside the so-called At-Tanf ‘security zone’ upheld by US-backed forces in the country’s south.
According a source within the Syrian Army, government troops undertook to seize the strategic Bi’ir Atshan area in the At-Tanf countryside on Friday as part of a new operation aimed at countering the movement of US-backed forces throughout Homs and Rif Dimashq (Damascus) provinces.
The Syrian Army had expected to find the location deserted and intended to establish new positions throughout the area. [However] the army units encountered ISIS terrorists in the Bi’ir Atshan area and briefly engaged them before the fighters withdrew toward the Iraqi border.
Syrian forces could not pursue the terrorist elements toward the town of At-Tanf due to the fact that they would have been bombed by American warplanes (as has happened more than once) for any further penetration of the US-controlled region.
Bi’ir Atshan is located just within the US military’s 55-kilometer buffer zone in southern Syria.
Considering the ISIS militants encountered were riding in pickups, it is hard to believe that American aerial surveillance was not aware of their presence.
[END REPORT] 
April 16, Al Masdar News:
Feature: Naming unmarked ISIS insurgency zones in Syria’s Homs province
By Andrew Illingworth
BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:10 P.M.) – The first four months of 2018 has proven that Islamic State forces, although severely reduced in terms of their once very formidable military capabilities, are still present and active within government-held areas of eastern Syria.
The mode of ISIS operations throughout Syria’s east has changed in accordance to what has been witnessed in Iraq since the end of 2017, where the terrorist group returned to a strategy of waging a low-intensity insurgency revolving around hit-and-run attacks.
According to Al-Masdar News sources, Islamic State forces possess units of light-armed fighters that are hidden behind Syrian Army lines throughout the rugged terrain of eastern Homs province – namely in caves and tunnels.
ISIS is known to possess hideouts throughout the Bilas mountain chain (northwest of Palmyra) and the hills north of Sukhnah because it has attacked pro-government forces from such areas. The number of fighters present in these areas can only be guessed at for now.
Furthermore, Russian military officials have publicly stated that Islamic State militants are also present within the 55-kilometer At-Tanf buffer zone maintained by US-backed forces (including actual US military units) along the Iraqi border. Despite the controversy of such a claim this has already been somewhat proven (details here [see above report]).
To this effect recent ISIS attacks against Syrian Army positions along the Damascus-Baghdad highway near the Zaza checkpoint area, although originally thought to have been launched from south of Palmyra, are now believed by some sources to be coming from the At-Tanf region.
 A map will be released soon to better articulate the situation.
 [END REPORT]
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