Joseph Dunford, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Turkey on Friday for discussions about the offensive to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State (IS) stronghold in northern Syria, al-Monitor said.
Overall, the operation to storm al-Bab is delayed while the parties solve their problem, and if the SAA are quite clear on their operational objectives, the actions of the Turks cause much more questions as to their military planning. In the end, the elimination of al-bab group of the Caliphate will obviously take more time than expected.
Pro-Turkish militants entrenched outside the city and wait for the Turkish air force and artillery to do their job, to resume the assault on the city. The events once again proved that “green” infantry has a very low resistance and at the first problem has a tendency to retreat, even with the numerical advantage. However, these tactical successes don’t cancel growing problems for the “black” – the Syrians and the SAA are advancing on both sides to track the key supply that devalues the local success of the Caliphate in the battle for Bza ‘ah.
A source from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), speaking on condition of anonymity, told BasNews on Saturday that a large group of well-equipped US Special Forces have recently arrived at the Tel Bidr base, northwest of Hasakah.
Abdullah al-Ahmadi, an SDF officer, told ARA News that their forces closed in on Tabqa Dam. “Our forces today liberated the Suwaydiya town from ISIS. We are currently approaching the strategic Tabqa Dam.”
“Soon we’ll attack ISIS at the key dam in order to cut off a main ISIS supply line between the town of Tabqa and Raqqa city,” al-Ahmadi said.
During the offensive to the West of Raqqa, the SDF forces/YPG with the support of the USA took the castle of Jabar to the North of the airbase Tabka. The Caliphate slowly moves to the main defensive positions to the West and North-West of Raqqa, where it is planned to organize a long-term defense on a narrow front. Some of the forces withdrew to the South Bank of the Euphrates – some in the direction of the Tabka, others to al-Baba. At the current pace of progress SDF, in March the Kurds should go on near the outskirts of Raqqa to the West, plus will probably attempt to advance to the capital of the Caliphate from the North. It is also not excluded the option of trying to cross the Euphrates in the area of Tabka, to the benefit of the territory Rojava Americans imported including engineering technique that can be used in the construction of a pontoon bridge in the case of formation of a bridgehead on the southern Bank of the Euphrates. Although in General, it is more likely that priority will be given for a direct advance to Raqqa.
The insurgency of the Kurdish PKK and its armed wing HPG (Hêzên Parastina Gel, People’s Defence Force, in Turkey) has intensified throughout 2016 in southeastern Turkey, causing a tightening of the Turkish government’s military and administrative repression. They regained control of cities like Cizre, Nusaybin, Sirnak or Diyarbakir at the price of major destruction. Many mountainous and rural areas, however, are under de facto control of the insurgency.