The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – ISIS – was on the move Sunday, May 24, from central Syria to the Jordanian border, debkafile’s exclusive military sources report. They were advancing from the central town of Palmyra, which they seized last week, in columns of US-made tanks and armored cars taken booty in Iraq. No Syrian military force was there to block their advance on the border.
Our sources report that the initial ISIS mission is to take control of the eastern section of the border, including the meeting point between the Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi frontiers. They are estimated to cover the 250 km from Palmyra to the Jordanian border byTuesday, May 26, passing through Deir el-Zour in the east, which they already occupy.
After the border crossing, ISIS is expected to seize villages and towns in northeastern Jordan, especially Ar Ruwayshid, where 800,000 Syrian refugees shelter.
The Jordanian army, our sources report, had the foresight earlier this month to reinforce its western frontier against a potential ISIS assault on the frontier from point where it links with the Israeli and Syrian borders and up to the Tanaf border crossing, However, the Islamists are heading for the eastern sections whic the Jordanian army did not fortify with extra troops.
It is important to note that the United States maintains in the Kingdom of Jordan 7,000 special operations troops and an air force unit to guard its northwestern border with Syria. Most are stationed at Jordanian military bases in Mafraq, opposite the central sector of the border with Syria.
By reaching Jordan’s doorstep, the Islamic State is posing a challenge to President Barack Obama and forcing him to reach a decision, avoided thus far, about sending US troops to confront the terrorists.
The ISIS approach may stir into action the clandestine cells the group maintains in the towns of central Jordan with strong local support. ISIS is popular in the kingdom, especially in the southern regions abutting on Israel and Saudi Arabia. Ma’an is seen as an Islamic State stronghold in southern Jordan.