(ARA News) BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:01 A.M.) – Dozens of Islamic State’s (ISIS) jihadist fighters were killed in a renewed offensive by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near Raqqa, in northeastern Syria, military sources reported on Friday.
The US-backed SDF troops hit ISIS headquarters in the Jadidat Makhit town in the eastern countryside of Raqqa.
“The SDF shelled ISIS security centres in the town with heavy artillery and mortar fire,” SDF officer Habun Osman told ARA News.
Over 45 ISIS militants were killed in the attack.
“The terror group was forced to withdraw from the town after suffering heavy losses in manpower and equipment,” the official confirmed.
The Syrian Democratic Forces seized several ISIS vehicles and a large deal of ammunition after taking control of a weapons storage centre in the Jadidat Makhit town subsequent to ISIS’ withdrawal.
This comes amid continued military operations by the SDF troops, supported by the US-led coalition, against ISIS militants in Raqqa.
On Wednesday, the SDF launched a multi-pronged offensive behind enemy lines on Wednesday to liberate the Tabqah Dam in Syria from ISIS. Apache helicopters, U.S. Marine artillery and special operation troops were part of this operation to drop SDF fighters near Tabqa.
Seizing Tabqah Dam will isolate Raqqa from three sides and give the SDF the strategic advantage and launching point needed for the liberation of the city. The area is critical to ISIS’s ability to import and harbor foreign fighters, export terror, and is ISIS’s last link to territory west of the Euphrates.
Tabqah Dam has been used as an ISIS headquarters, a prison for high-profile hostages, a training location, and for external terror plotting since ISIS took control of the location in 2013.
“This operation demonstrates the close relationship between the US military and SDF fighters,” Washington-based analyst Nicholas A. Heras, Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), told ARA News. “A special operation, the air drop would not have even been attempted by the US military if the Americans did not have complete trust in the capabilities of the SDF.”
This comes as part of the third phase of the Euphrates Wrath Operation, aimed at liberating Eastern Raqqa from ISIS jihadists, launched by the SDF on 4 February.
During the first phase of Euphrates Wrath, which began on November 6, 2016, the SDF liberated roughly 560 km² in Northern Raqqa.
On 10 December, the SDF launched the second phase of the Euphrates Wrath, during which it captured over 2500 km² in Western Raqqa.
The campaign is ultimately aimed at isolating the ISIS radical group in its de facto capital.