DAMASCUS, SYRIA (10:00 P.M.) – On Tuesday evening, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) entered and imposed full control over the eastern Raqqa neighborhood of Al-Mashalab after taking control over the adjacent Tall Bia hill hours earlier.
The Al-Mashalab suburb was first targeted by Kurdish probing attacks around noon today and then subsequently stormed after ISIS defenses proved surprisingly weak.
ISIS insurgents reportedly withdrew to a pre-prepared frontline in the neighboring Al-Mukhtalta district after ISIS gun positions and sniper nests where demolished by US airstrikes in the vulnerable Al-Mashalab suburb which represents an eastern bulge.
Jihadist commanders now hope to bring the battle to the streets of Raqqa itself. Across the border in Mosul, ISIS has proven formidable in defensive urban warfare despite facing overwhelming odds in terms of weaponry, armored vehicles and manpower.
Al-Mashalab represents the first suburb in Raqqa to come under Kurdish control. At the moment, the Islamic State controls little more than 90% of the provincial capital of Raqqa, known to be the self-declared capital of the Islamic State.
The rapid SDF advancement correlates with a statement earlier in the day by its leadership, declaring the final stage of the Euphrates Wrath offensive to be in full effect:
An interactive battle map of the region can be found here.