The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and National Defense Forces (NDF) have made considerable gains in West Al-Hasakah over the last 2 days, killing scores of Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) militants and taking control of 2 imperative villages within 40 km of the Al-Raqqa border.
On Saturday evening, the SAA – backed by the NDF – took control of the villages of Al-Siyyaha and Touq Al-Malah in west Al-Hasakah; this forced ISIS militants to retreat west towards the Ar-Raqqa border, where they were met with a series of airstrikes by the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF). According to a military source, 26 ISIS militants were killed and 12 others were captured by the SAA and NDF in both villages. Among the dead ISIS fighters were their field commanders, Abu Najeeb Al-Maghrebi (Moroccan) and Zayd Faisal Al-Malek.
The SAA’s success in the Al-Hasakah Governorate is directly correlated with ISIS’ recent shift of focus to the Deir Ezzor front, where hundreds of their reinforcements have been transferred to assist their offensive. If the ISIS offensive in Deir Ezzor is unsuccessful, they could face a counter-offensive by the SAA; which, coupled with the Iraqi Army’s offensive in east Al-Anbar, could result in ISIS forces being flanked from the east and west.