DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:26) – The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces continued the third phase of the Raqqa operation on Friday capturing four large villages along the northern bank of the Euphrates: Muqlah Kabirah, Khass Hibal, Khass Dakur, and Khas ‘Ujayl.
The aforementioned villages are located some 50 km east of Raqqa which is ISIS’s largest remaining administrative stronghold in both Iraq and Syria following the loss of 80% of Mosul in Iraq’s Nineveh province. The latest advances has the Kurdish-dominated coalition in control of a 40 km strip of land along the Euphrates valley tampering the Islamic State’s main supply lines between the two provinces.
This swift progress can be attributed to the US Coalition’s non-stop bombing of terrorist logistics, mobilization points, and bridges along the fertile Euphrates valley in addition to the intense hatred of the terror group by the local populace the Ma’adi administration of Deir Ezzor where native Arab tribes have mutinied against the extremists a number of times.
Notably, the third phase of the Raqqa operation aims to isolate Raqqa completely from the rest of the areas under ISIS control in eastern Syria and Iraq. So far, the operation has been a success but there is a long way to go if Raqqa is to be successfully besieged. The SDF will have to cross the Euphrates and capture at least 150 km of territory along the valley to carry out this feat.
Since the terrorist organization projects dominance over the Syrian desert, Raqqa’s encapsulation remains distant, that is, unless the Syrian Armed Forces develop a successful assault east of the Khanasser-Ithriya road and along the Maskanah plains on Raqqa’s western outskirts. Syrian forces have been relentlessly bombarding that region for two days now as a preliminary to the anticipated infantry attack.