Kurdish casualties are mounting in operation ‘Euphrates Wrath’ as ISIS is relying increasingly on various guerrilla tactics to stop the US-backed ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ from reaching Raqqa, the Islamic State capital.
On Saturday, two ISIS fighters managed to bypass Kurdish checkpoints in the Manbij countryside and subsequently reached the town of Sarrin. Here, the jihadist infiltration unit entered a local SDF headquarters, prompting one of the Islamic State fighters to detonate his suicide vest on unsuspecting Kurdish fighters.
The initial blast killed and injured 23 Kurdish fighters inside the building; seconds later, the second ISIS fighters moved in and liquidated all surviving SDF militants.
According to Amaq Agency, the second ISIS fighter then escaped the scene and reported back to his superiors about the succesful operation.
However, hours later, the second ISIS militant was detected by SDF units at the village Qundihah where he was neutralized after a brief firefight.
Meanwhile, the predominately Kurdish SDF is gradually advancing towards Raqqa, capturing Shati al-Jimjim and Al-Mashahda on Tuesday – these two small villages are located directly south of Ain Issa.
In addition, according to a Kurdish source, approximately 20 ISIS fighters were killed during US-led coalition airstrikes on Al-Mshahda. This village and several surrounding areas north of Raqqa were struck by heavy aerial bombardment on Wednesday.
Complicating matters for the SDF command center, ISIS suicide bombers are persistently attacking newly liberated villages north or Raqqa while jihadist forces seem unwilling to engange in conventional warfare. For instance, on Tuesday, one Islamic State VBIED killed 14 Kurdish fighters southeast of Ain Issa:
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Despite news of the Kurdish YPG – the main contingent of the SDF – redeploying from Manbij to the Raqqa frontline, Kurdish forces have managed to fully envelope and besiege ISIS forces at al-Arimah, a now isolated town on the road between al-Bab and Manbij.
Currently, Kurdish frontline units are some 27 kilometers from Raqqa city. Since operation ‘Euphrates Wrath’ began 10 days ago, at least 167 ISIS militants have been killed.