DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:00 P.M.) – On Thursday evening, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) finally overran the highly fortified Division 17 Army Base and Sugar Factory northeast of Raqqa after laying siege to the facilities for several weeks.
A few dozen ISIS militants managed to escape to Raqqa city although many more were killed amid clashes for Division 17 which rather expectantly proved tough for both sides.
In addition, Kurdish militants eliminated an ISIS pocket northwest of Raqqa city, thus imposing control over the villages of Al-Sakura and Mazraat Yarub.
Effectively, the Kurdish-led SDF now controls all villages, checkpoints and bases surrounding the predominately Arab city of Raqqa where a huge battle will unfold this summer.
Elite Kurdish assault troops preparing for the assault on Raqqa city:
According to reports, jihadist commanders have put low priority to rural areas surrounding Raqqa while the city itself is defended by some 4,000 militants who will engage the SDF in an attritional battle for the Islamic State capital itself.
Across the border in Mosul, ISIS militants have lasted for over 8 months in Mosul as suicide bombings, sniper nests, booby traps and human shields have proven difficult for the Iraqi Army to handle despite boasting vastly superior numbers and weaponry.
Division 17 is most famous for witnessing the ISIS massacre of hundreds of Syrian soldiers who defied a long-standing jihadist siege which culminated in an Islamic State takeover on July 25, 2014.