The regime, on the other hand, seems to be stepping up its fight against ISIS targets in the Aleppo eastern countryside, in Hasaka, and in Deir Ezzor. In Aleppo, the regime’s frontlines are getting ever closer to those of ISIS in the eastern parts of the city.
Inside ISIS-held areas, the Assad regime is quietly working to revitalize long-existing intelligence networks to fight ISIS there. According to sources in eastern Syria, the regime has established a training camp for members of tribes in the desert of Palmyra and has been encouraging local tribes to rise up against ISIS, through a network locally known as “Jamie Jamie” after a regime officer who was killed last year.
It is important to emphasize that ISIS operates in predominantly tribal areas, and the jihadist group has a decade-long experience of dealing with tribes in Iraq and in Syria. But the other force that is well positioned to deal with tribes is the Assad regime, especially if compared to the Syrian opposition, which has failed to tap into tribal labyrinth throughout the uprising. The regime’s experience with tribes and its intelligence links to individuals in tribal areas give it an advantage over the opposition—although not necessarily over ISIS, since the regime lacks the popular support and credibility in those areas as well as the manpower to fill the void after ISIS.