Following the capture of 6 villages, the predominately Kurdish ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ are closing in on a key ISIS bastion in the northern Raqqa countryside; namely Al-Hisbah. This town serves as a stepping stone towards Raqqa city, the Islamic State capital.
However, an ISIS suicide bomber struck a SDF gathering at the village of Suluk on Sunday afternoon, killing 14 Kurdish militants. Effectively, the SDF’s casualties are now at 49 fighters on day one of the Raqqa liberation campaign dubbed ‘Wrath of the Euphrates’.
The United States Air Force (USAF), US special forces and US military advisers are assisting the SDF’s offensive. Furthermore, upwards of 30,000 SDF fighters are said to be involved in ‘Wrath of the Euphrates’ in one way or another.
Brand new pictures of US boots on the ground in Syria can be seen here:
Planning for the Raqqa offensive has been complicated by political factors including Turkish concerns about expanding Kurdish influence in northern Syria. Turkey has said Raqqa would be targeted in its own operation against Islamic State in northern Syria, which it is waging with Syrian rebels.
But the SDF said on Thursday it had rejected any Turkish involvement in the Raqqa campaign. The Turkey-backed rebels fighting under the Free Syrian Army banner and the YPG and its allies are hostile to each other, and have clashed repeatedly.