BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:55 A.M.) – Following what now appears to now be their forth of final seizure of the town of Gharanij from Islamic State terrorists, US-backed forces (of which Kurdish units form a leading part) have achieved their first real in eastern Syria.
Gharanij was a genuine ISIS stronghold. The terrorist group had invested months of planning into its defense – propositioning car bombs, artillery, fire support positions and local reinforcements based on theories of how the town might come under attack as well as building an extensive tunnel system in and around it.
Once US-backed forces committed to an assault on Gharanij, the battle for this town on the eastern shore of the Euphrates River and its surrounding countryside lasted at least five weeks, ultimately changing hands about as many times.
Opposition sources even noted that the amount of car bombs thrown at the town by ISIS nearly reached the number of that seen in the battle for Raqqa city.
In the end, ISIS and US-backed forces suffered many hundreds of casualties each – there can be no doubt about this despite the confusion of both sides claiming inflated losses on the other whilst never revealing their own.
Regarding fatalities alone, anywhere between 250 to 300 Islamic State militants were killed whilst anti-ISIS coalition ranks, not far behind, lost at least 200 dead.
Prior to Gharanij, US-led Kurdish and Arab anti-ISIS coalition paramilitaries gobbled up most of the Khabur River and east Euphrates bank with little resistance beyond the odd terrorist raid until running into the Shaitat tribal region.