Earlier today, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) captured the Sfaiyeh crossroad after clashing with ISIS in western Raqqa province; the Sfaiyeh intersection leads directly north to Tabqa Airbase. The advance was spearheaded by the Desert Hawks Brigade and Syrian Marines, who were assisted by the SAA’s 555th Regiment of the 4th Mechanized Division.
The SAA also seized the adjacent Sfaiyeh oil field and its electrical station.
Alongside the SAA’s tanks and artillery, airstrikes have played an instrumental role in driving ISIS back during the Raqqa offensive as the scarcely populated desert terrain is not suitable for ambushes but leaves ISIS forces exposed.
These recent gains leave government troops just 20 kilometers south of Tabqa Airbase and 60 kilometers from the provincial capital of Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State.
Nevertheless, the SAA must now consider focusing on reinforcing its flanks in the region before advancing further – so as to safeguard the massive government salient which now strikes deep into the Islamic State heartland of Raqqa province.
Today’s government advance also puts the SAA within striking distance of ISIS-held oil fields in Raqqa province, thus adding further pressure to the Islamic State, which has seen its territories across both Syria and Iraq shrink significantly in the past few months.