DAMASCUS, SYRIA (7:45 P.M.) – Earlier today, Kurdish-led troops advanced within one kilometer of Tabqa, a long-standing ISIS bastion, after liberating the As-Safsafah villages.
The As-Safsafah area witnessed a series of back-and-forth clashes which began on April 2nd while the Islamic State has deployed suicide bombers to devastating effect, resulting in heavy casualties for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who nevertheless scored an important victory at As-Safsafah, located on the main road between Raqqa and Tabqa.
With the siege of Tabqa completed, SDF snipers and US airstrikes have begun targeting ISIS fighters and gun positions inside the city ahead of a looming Kurdish assault.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) could soon join the battle for Raqqa as government troops are steadily pushing through Aleppo province, reaching Jirah Airbase yesterday following the liberation of an adjacent village.
Notably, the Islamic State collapse in western Raqqa may prompt jihadist forces to abandon Aleppo province in favor of the defense of its self-proclaimed capital. However, a mass retreat is yet to take place as Amaq Agency pictures from the region suggest ISIS to be determined on holding a foothold in the Aleppo governorate.
Tabqa city has been under ISIS control since early 2014. The SDF is yet to enter its suburbs but could easily do so in the days to come.
A larger version of the above map can be found here.