The Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) abrupt withdrawal from the west Raqqa countryside earlier this week created a great deal of doubt regarding whether or not they can really challenge the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) inside this province in northern Syria.
However, the High Command of the Syrian Arab Army has not given up on the idea of recapturing the strategic Tabaqa Military Airport, despite the disastrous end to their once promising offensive.
One of the biggest issues that plagued the Syrian Arab Army’s offensive was their thin supply line that stretched over 50 km across the western countryside of the Raqqa Governorate.
The Islamic State militants consistently targeted this thin supply route with their VBIEDs (vehicle borne improvised explosive device) along the Salamiyah-Raqqa Highway; it would often force the Syrian Arab Army to concentrate their units at these attack points.
If the High Command chooses to restart this west Raqqa offensive, they will need to choose a different path because the Islamic State controls a large portion of the southeast Aleppo (Maskanah Plains); and as long as they control this area, they will have the ability to obstruct both the Khanasser Highway to Aleppo and the Salamiyah-Raqqa Highway to Tabaqa.