‘Rebels fight IS-linked group near Golan’

Rebels and Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate clash with jihadists linked to the Islamic State group along Syria’s border with the Golan Heights, a monitor and an opposition spokesman say.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says that rebel groups, as well as Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, fight IS-linked Jaish al-Jihad in the border town of Qahtaniya in the southern province of Quneitra province.

“These are key battles, because IS now has a presence in Syria’s south and because they are close to the ceasefire line with the Golan,” says Abdel Rahman.

“This is the first time these groups have clashed with each other,” he adds.

Abdel Rahman says 12 rebels, including Al-Nusra fighters, were killed and Jaish al-Jihad lost seven fighters.

“Fifteen members of Jaish al-Jihad were also taken hostage,” he says.

The clashes took place as Israel announced that two mortar rounds fired from Syria struck northern parts of the Golan Heights, without causing casualties.

Jaish al-Islam is a relatively new group but is suspected to have very close ties to IS, according to Romain Caillet, a French expert on jihadists.

Essam al-Rayes, spokesperson for the Southern Front coalition which is fighting Jaish al-Islam, says the IS-linked group has a presence in and around the town of Qahtaniya.