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.
In General, we can say that the relationship of Turkey with the activities of the Russian military coalition in Syria is quite obvious, and while Erdogan is fulfilling its obligations (that he was not talking in public), he will continue to be our companion in the Syrian war. However, given the changeable nature of Erdogan and the vacillation of traditional Turkish foreign policy, the ear with it should be kept open.
The Kurdish-led military command in the northern Syrian town of Manbij on Thursday announced they destroyed four Turkish army tanks in the western countryside of the township.
On the question of how and why such slow progress, let me remind that a considerable part of the force was until recently was defending against the Jihadi assault, and then it developed a successful counter-offensive to the South-West and West of the city. Second, the Syrian command wants to avoid unnecessary casualties among its soldiers and civilians, and reducing eastern Aleppo to the state of the lunar landscape. If it was the way it is written about in the Western media, the Eastern districts of Aleppo would have long been leveled to the ground by artillery and aviation, an obvious opportunity for the Assad regime if it was oblivious to the loss of the civilians. Instead, there is implementation of the strategy that led to success in the course of liquidation of militants near Damascus, when by small, but systematic strokes, the zone of control of the militants declined and they thus were forced to surrender without having to destroy the settlements, which they held.
Race to al-Baba has entered the final stage. Advanced units of the Turkish army and FSA troops under the control of Turkey, from the North and West reached the outskirts of the city. In the forefront you can see the outskirts of the city, which today remains the last major cities in Northern Syria that still remain under the control of the Caliphate after the loss Manuja, al Rai, Debica and Dzharablus.
The US government has denied any involvement in last week’s clashes between Turkey-backed rebels and the pro-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). American officials have also expressed concern about the number of civilian fatalities, being caused by Turkish air strikes in northern Syria.