DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:40 P.M.) – With Jirah Airbase fully liberated by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in rural Aleppo, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces simultaneously liberated a couple of villages on the northern outskirts on Raqqa city.
On Friday, the US-backed SDF captured the villages of Mazrat Al-Ansar and Al-Rafqah northwest of Raqqa, clearing vulnerable ISIS bulges before the highly anticipated assault on Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State.
Kurdish outlets also said the SDF, led by freshly armed YPG contingents, had captured the Cotton Center and an ISIS prison northeast of Raqqa on Saturday although these sites are believed to have been captured by the Euphrates Wrath offensive earlier this year.
Effectively, Kurdish troops are no more than four kilometers from Raqqa city, prompting the Islamic State to begin a tactical retreat from eastern Aleppo where its month-long defensive line has been breached by the SAA’s elite assault troops, the Tiger Forces.
Although the SAA and SDF appear to be tagteaming ISIS in northern Syria, government forces hope to race through the Maskanah Plains and begin the battle for largely Arab city of Raqqa before the Kurds who are much closer to the provincial capital.