ISIS Closing in on Israel from the North and the South
This switch means that Israel, the U.S.’s closest ally in the Middle East, could be threatened from the southwest by the Egyptian ISIS group of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis in Sinai and by ISIS in southern Syria.
The ISIS war is not going well at all for the US-led alliance in Syria. ISIS and al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, are still the dominant rebel groups in the country. The U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army is still not a reliable fighting force.
The three rebel groups that just joined ISIS could make that situation even worse. Two of the groups are small in number, but the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade has hundreds of fighters.
The Yarmouk Brigades has been at odds with al-Nusra Front and switched now to join what leaders of all thrwee groups believe is the future of Islam.
“If Israel was attacked by ISIS, America would expect a proportionate response by Israel, which is militarily capable of defending itself,” said Geoffrey Levin, a professor at New York University. “America would counsel against sustained Israeli involvement because it could threaten the tacit alliance between America, Iran, Turkey, and several Arab states against ISIS.”
“More recent reports indicated a closer alliance with [the Islamic State] due to tensions with JN [al-Nusra Front],” said Jasmine Opperman, a researcher at Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC).
She said al-Nusra attacked the headquarters of the Yarmouk Brigade in southern Syria in early December 2014 following clashes between the two groups.
Al-Yarmuk Martyrs Brigade controlled an area near the Jordan-Israel border in March 2013. That same month, the brigade took as hostages some of the United Nations peacekeeping mission soldiers.
Even so, Israel reportedly allowed the brigade to have its wounded fighters treated in Israeli hospitals.
ISIS has been known for launching surprise attacks and opening new battlefronts when it seems to be losing.
ISIS also has been criticized by many Arabs and Muslims for not taking its fight to Israel and instead fighting fellow Arabs and Muslims.
An attack aimed at Israel may boost ISIS’s popularity in the Arab world and refresh its recruitment and funding efforts.
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