BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:45 P.M.) – The latest footage from Raqqa to be released by ISIS media shows, as usual, the terrorist groups’ fighters offering ceaseless resistance towards the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). On closer inspection however, there can be identified emerging parallels in the nature of the battle that ISIS is performing in Raqqa to what was seen in Mosul.
To start with, it is worth noting the presence of what appears to be local recruits within the ranks of ISIS forces in Raqqa who do not have standard ISIS attire. This was seen in Mosul towards the end of the fighting when it became apparent that not all militants were foreign volunteers and career troops, but in fact also native (to the city) enlistees.
Secondly, a brief scene in the footage below shows one the jihadists employing a shoulder-fired rocket launcher design that (until now) has only ever been known too be used by ISIS during the last phases of the Mosul operation. The rocket launcher is apparently an indigenous-built weapon, or so the terrorist group claims.
The last parallel that stands out is the increasingly greater dependence by ISIS on light fire support weapons as the battle moves towards Raqqa’s city center. Just like Mosul, the use of recoilless rifles, heavy machine guns and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) by the terrorist group gradually gave way to more mobile squad-level fire support weapons – namely shoulder-fired rocket launchers and medium machine guns – as Iraqi forces pushed towards the central areas of the city.