It has been a long week for the Syrian Armed Forces: from the implementation of a two week long ceasefire agreement with the Syrian opposition to the obstruction of their only supply route to the Aleppo Governorate by the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) – the road to victory is coming at a high cost.
However, all is not lost for the Syrian Armed Forces and their allies; in fact, it is only a setback that will likely be remedied in the coming days as they zero-in on the Salamiyah-Raqqa Highway that leads to ISIS’ capital.
Earlier today, the Syrian Arab Army’s “Tiger Forces” – backed by Hezbollah, the Republican Guard, the National Defense Forces (NDF), and Liwaa Al-Quds (Jerusalem Brigade) – officially liberated the last checkpoints under ISIS’ control along the Sheikh Hilal-Ithriyah Road; this allowed for the government to reopen their only supply route to the Aleppo Governorate.
While, this news may be uplifting, the sad reality is that the Syrian Armed Forces will have to start from the beginning in the Hama-Raqqa countryside.
ISIS’ large-scale offensive in southeast Aleppo and northeast Hama forced the Syrian Army to concentrate a large number of soldiers to these fronts in order reopen the supply route.
Unfortunately by doing this, they had to abandon a number of posts near the strategic village of Zakiyah in the Al-Raqqa Governorate’s southwestern countryside.
This time around; it is ISIS that will need an influx of fighters to help them fight off the government forces that are likely to make another major push into the Al-Raqqa countryside.
Making matters worse for ISIS, their offensive illuminated the need for the Syrian Armed Forces to build a large buffer-zone around this desert region that connects the provinces of Aleppo, Al-Raqqa, and Hama.
Sure, their strongholds of Al-Bab and Deir Hafer will get a much needed break from the advancing Tiger Forces; however, ISIS will now have to strengthen their defenses around the Tabaqa Military Airport.
ISIS has been relatively unchallenged in the Tabaqa countryside since they captured this military installation in August of 2014; but, in defense of the Syrian Army, they have never made any legitimate push to liberate the area up until recently.
Now, the tables have turned once again and this time, the Syrian Armed Forces plan to make the most of their resurgence in the Al-Raqqa countryside.