ICC Note: Recent reports indicate that ISIS militants based in Syria have claimed new territory over the past few days, killings many innocent civilians in the process. The group reasserted their power and presence to rival terror groups, including the Nursa Front, by advancing into Yarmouk on Wednesday, April 1. This advance has dangerous implications for the 18,000 civilians in the area who are already suffering from a lack of food and medical care.
By Anne Barnard
04/01/2015 Syria (The New York Times) – Islamic State militants in Syria have seized new territory on multiple fronts in recent days, killing dozens of civilians in the central province of Hama, residents there said, and advancing on Wednesday into the chaotic Yarmouk district on the southern edge of Damascus.
The advances reasserted the extremist group’s power just days after insurgent groups — including its rival, the Nusra Front, a branch of Al Qaeda — seized the northern city of Idlib, the second provincial capital to fall completely out of government control in Syria’s four-year conflict.
If it holds, the advance into Yarmouk, a refugee camp that before the war was a bustling district with one of the world’s largest Palestinian communities, could mean a new round of misery for the 18,000 residents who remain, besieged by government forces, suffering from starvation and lack of medical care, and dominated by clashing Syrian insurgent and Palestinian armed groups.
The seizure would also leave the Islamic State in control of territory less than five miles from the center of Damascus, the closest the group has ventured in the capital and its suburbs, where other insurgent groups have deeper roots.
Insurgents in southern Syria also asserted themselves on Wednesday, seizing the main border crossing with Jordan, they said; Jordanian officials closed the post. By Wednesday night, Nusra fighters appeared to take credit for the victory, posting photos of themselves at the scene. It was a potential embarrassment for Jordan and the United States, as Syria’s southern front is one of the few places where relatively moderate, nationalist insurgents retain some clout. They receive some Western aid, yet sometimes cooperate with Nusra, listed as a terrorist group.