BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:30 P.M.) – As with the previous several months, the month of July thus far has seen the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies achieve stunning advances throughout central and eastern Syria against the ISIS terrorist group.
Currently, the bulk of the SAA’s vanguard strength is engaged in eastern Syria against the so-called Islamic State. This includes elite formations such as the Tiger Forces Division and the ever-expanding, evermore capable 5th Assault Corps.
Deir Ezzor appears to be the inescapable priority of the pro-government forces’ offensive efforts. From both the northern, western and southern directions, on a front streching from Tabaqa to the Iraqi border, pro-government forces appear to be descending on the besieged city with the hope of completely liberating it from ISIS.
In Syria’s southwestern Badia region, pro-government forces have put major pressure on US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) mercenaries as part of their ongoing Big Dawn offensive. Nonetheless the advances appear to be made in brief incremental stages aimed at encouraging FSA militants to withdraw, rather than commit to an engagement.
After some modest gains in eastern Hama against ISIS, the Desert Hawks Brigade withdrew from the offensive aimed at liquidating the terrorist group’s stronghold in the region. Now it appears that the 5th Assault Corps will carry the burden of the offensive by making gradual pushes. The nature of offensive actions against Islamic State militants in the region appears to be nowhere near the kind of frantic, land-snatching scramble that is being witnessed further east.
Finally, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have completely encircled the ISIS bastion in Raqqa city and captured approximately 40 percent of the urban center from the terrorist group.
Not depicted in this map, but nonetheless worth mentioning, is the reality that hostilities between the Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) jihadist group and Ahrar al-Sham Islamist coalition in Idlib Governorate now appear to have degenerated to the point of a general battle as both sides rush to secure key roads, bases and towns from one another.
Given the current trends in territorial shifts between all the major warring parties in Syria, it is most likely the case that ISIS will continue to suffer military setbacks well into August and beyond as the terrorist group appears to have lost all strategic initiative in the war against both pro-government forces and the SDF.
The Islamic State – in this current capacity – seems to now only act as an ever eroding barrier between the objective of pro-government forces to restore Syrian sovereignty and SDF ambitions to grab as much key agricultural land and economic infrastructures as possible in order to consolidate its position during the post-war negotiations.
Click here for a HD version of the map above.