BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:00 P.M.) – Footage has been released of fighters belonging to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) – the dominant militant faction within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance structure – engaging ISIS terrorists at the village of Ratlah.
Yesterday it was reported that a number of key villages on the southern bank of the Euphrates were captured by the SDF from ISIS after protracted clashes. To this end it appears that the SDF is developing an advance in the direction of Deir Ezzor from the northeast.
The most obvious strategic goal of SDF advances south of Raqqa can be identified as further isolating the now-encircled ISIS-bastion in Raqqa by creating an extensive buffer zone to the south of the city in the event ISIS chooses to launch a counter-offensive.
However, some pro-government observers have argued that the real objective of the Coaltion-backed SDF is to entice ISIS forces to completely disengage from northern Syria – abandoning it to Kurdish control – and instead concentrate their military efforts against pro-government forces in central (Homs Governonate), eastern (Deir Ezzor Governonate) and southern (Badia region) Syria.