BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:10 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), spearheaded by the elite Tiger Forces, has seized more than 1,400 square kilometers of territory from ISIS in the province of Raqqah. In addition to this, several key oil and gas extraction and refinery sites have been liberated. Lastly, the Syrian Army also expanded their zone of control over the Ethriyah-Raqqah road including two key junctions in the Tabaqah area; this move opens the door to further advances into central Syria from the north by pro-government forces.
The suddenness and rapidity of the entire offensive has come as an absolute surprise for all observers of the Syrian War. In particular, the offensive has not only served to further accelerate the already fast decline of ISIS being witnessed in 2017, but now serves to block any further operations the US-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) might have had planned to expand into central Syria via Tabaqah and seize key oil and gas infrastructures which litter central areas of the country.
The Syrian Army’s next expected operation in the Raqqah Governorate is to foray south-east towards the strategic city of Deir Ezzor in parallel with other pro-government forces, namely the 5th Assault Corps and the 11th Armoured Division, who too are pushing towards Deir Ezzsor via the Palmyra axis.
In any case, with the capture of the town of Resafa and its attached crossroads, the Syrian Army also has the less strategically extensive and operationally risky option of pushing directly south to the town of Sukhnah, which represents the last ISIS stronghold in the Homs Governorate and final obstetrical between pro-government forces and the city of Deir Ezzor.