BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:10 A.M.) – The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched their long-awaited Deir Ezzor offensive this past weekend, targeting the northern countryside of this province from their positions near the Al-Hasakah Governorate border.
The primary objective for the SDF is to reach the border-city of Albukamal, which has long been an Islamic State (ISIL) stronghold in the Deir Ezzor Governorate.
However, the SDF taking control of Albukamal creates a problem for the Syrian government, as the city is home to the most important border-crossing into Iraq’s Al-Anbar Governorate.
To counteract the U.S.’ expansion, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has expedited its Deir Ezzor offensive by lifting the siege on the military airport and shifting their attention to the occupied districts in the provincial capital.
The Syrian Arab Army is now planning to cross the Euphrates River from the northern outskirts of the provincial capital in order to impede the SDF’s progress to Albukamal.
The Syrian Army has the boats needed to make the amphibious landing and they possess a much larger force to take the Islamic State stronghold, should they reach Albukamal before the SDF.
With the battle of Raqqa City still raging, it is unlikely that the SDF can dedicate enough military personnel to take Albukamal from the Islamic State forces in the coming months.