Who is Shuhada al-Yarmouk and Why Did They Start Attacking Israel?

In Frontlines, Radical Islam, Regional Analysis by Micha Gefen

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With yesterday’s attack being the first direct confrontation between an ISIS related group and Israel, the question stands who is Shuhada al-Yarmouk and why did they decide to attack the IDF?

Jihad Intel a Middle East Forum Database for tracking Jihad groups says the following:

Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade) was founded in 2012 in southwestern Deraa province (the Yarmouk Valley), bordering the Golan Heights. Once a part of the Western and Gulf-backed ‘Southern Front’ rebel coalition, the group came to blows with Jabhat al-Nusra in December 2014 as the latter accused Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk of secret ties with the Islamic State. Though other Southern Front members denied the claims at the time, the group has since the clashes openly embarked on a program of ‘reform’ in the Yarmouk Valley area it controls, advertising greater affinity with the Islamic State. Besides adopting the Islamic State flag in its emblem, members openly show support for the Islamic State and echo its talking points. The administration of the Yarmouk Valley likewise mimics the Islamic State with an Islamic court , Islamic police and Diwan al-Hisba, though no official pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State has been announced.

Links between Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk and the Islamic State can be traced to the summer of 2014, as certain members visited the Islamic State’s de facto Syrian capital in Raqqa. In March 2016, Islamic State dispatched a Saudi- Abu Abdullah al-Madani- to take over the group as a new offensive was launched against rebel forces, cooperating with the Islamic Muthanna Movement that controlled some towns to the east. Islamic Muthanna Movement was subsequently forced to retreat into Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk. At the end of May 2016, a new amir was dispatched by the Islamic State and a merger of Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk and Islamic Muthanna Movement was announced under Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Waleed, referring to an early figure in Islamic history who was key in the defeat of the Byzantines in the Levant in the Battle of Yarmouk.

So Shuhada al-Yarmouk was an American invention that decided to change sides in order relive the good old days of Islamic history.  So why attack Israel now?

Let’s face it, ISIS and its many affiliates are in a bit of a bind.  The Shuhada al-Yarmouk organization is in worst shape than others.  It has always been cut off from the rest of the “caliphate” and with Russian backed air strikes in the region, an Iranian military presence, and Hezbollah, its future is now compromised.  It has really only two options to stay relevant with the local populace. Either attack Jordan to its South or give it a go against the “Zionist Entity.” It chose the latter.  Does its failure in its first strike mean it won’t be dangerous down the road?  Not at all.  In fact, to its supporters it is victorious in being true to the Koran, because of its attack on the infidels. Recruitment will rise from this one attack, which means there will be more.

As the border area along the Golan increasingly becomes crowded look for more skirmishes between Syrian troops and ISIS as well as attempts to penetrate the Golan border.  The key anchor in stability in the region are the Druze.  With the animosity between ISIS and the Druze very high, Shuhada al-Yarmouk may decide to strategically alter its plans altogether.

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