DAMASCUS, SYRIA (4:50 P.M.) – Following the loss of Tabqa and three villages in northern Raqqa, the Islamic State launched a localized counter-offensive against the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) beginning on Wednesday evening.
Targeting Kurdish-held territory in western Raqqa, convoys of ISIS vehicles attacked the villages of Ayed al-Kabeer, Ibad and Al-Mashirfa where SDF garrisons came under enormous pressure, forcing them to call upon US air support to repel the attack.
With skirmishes persisting throughout the night and early hours of Thursday, ISIS had not been able to break through the Kurdish defensive line.
Thus far, 26 ISIS militants have been killed and dozens more injured in the aforementioned firefights, a Swedish foreign fighter operating in SDF ranks said.
The source did not specify Kurdish casualties from the ISIS attacks.
Although the Syrian Kurds have won the decisive upper hand against jihadist belligerents, the SDF and Manbij Military Council (MMC) have their backs against the wall on the southern bank of the Euphrates River and remain exposed to counter-attacks.
ISIS commanders reportedly hope to drive US allies back across Lake Assad but there are no indications they will succeed in doing so just yet with the self-proclaimed caliphate crumbling territorially with each day that passes.
Phase four of the Euphrates Wrath offensive has already resulted in the death of over 500 ISIS militants, thus weakening the hardline group before the looming battle for Raqqa.
ISIS is also heavily invested in battles against the Syrian Arab Army on the Aleppo and Palmyra frontiers in events that have diverted thousands of jihadists from Raqqa city to elsewhere in the country.