DAMASCUS, SYRIA (1:10 P.M.) – On Thusday, ISIS forces were forced to withdraw from a number of areas north of Raqqa after a swift pincer manuever conducted by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) threatened to cutoff an Islamic State salient.
With the stage five of the Euphrates Wrath offensive in full effect, Kurdish forward units managed to wrestle control over the villages of Tall Hazimah, Mazraat al-Hukumia, Kabash Gharbi Saghir, Ruwayyan and Al-Hukumia.
Effectively, ISIS commanders ordered a tactical withdrawal from some 20 nearby villages, leaving only volounteer suicide bombers and wounded fighters to defend the exposed area, indirectly signing their death warrant and likely conceeding the pocket to the SDF in the near future.
As this development is set to take place, seasoned jihadist fighters are assembling a horizontal defensive line on an axis some 10 kilometers north of the self-proclaimed Islamic State capital in a last-ditch effort to avert the looming battle for Raqqa.
Pictures of today’s SDF operations in rural Raqqa: