BEIRUT: At least 10 members of a small jihadist faction linked to the militant Islamic State group were killed on Monday by suspected Israeli air strikes in southern Syria, a monitor said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes hit the town of Sahm al-Jolan in the west of Daraa province.

The monitor said 10 fighters from the Jaish Khaled Bin Walid group were killed, along with two women believed to be the wives of fighters from the faction. The strike hit a base belonging to the group, which has pledged allegiance to IS but was never formally incorporated into it.

The Observatory relies on a network of sources inside Syria, and says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions used. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military on the report.

The Observatory said Monday’s strike came several months after 16 fighters from the group were killed in suspected Israeli air strikes in the same area.

Jaish Khaled Bin Walid was formed in May 2016, and is an alliance of several jihadist groups, the largest of them the Yarmuk Martyrs Brigade, which was listed by Washington as a “terrorist” group.

In November 2016, Israel’s army said it had targeted members of the Yarmuk Martyrs Brigade after they fired at an Israeli soldier in the occupied Golan Heights.

The Observatory said Jaish Khaled Bin Walid is estimated to have some 1,200 fighters, and controls territory in western Daraa province, along the border with the occupied Golan Heights.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres of the Golan from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community. The two countries are still technically at war.

More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011.

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2017

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