Race to Raqqa: Coordination Between Syrian Army and Rebels 'Quite Real'
20:03 09.06.2016(updated 20:28 09.06.2016)
Daesh has found itself in dire straits in the al-Raqqa region: the terrorist organization is being simultaneously attacked by the Syrian Arab Army assisted by Russia and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
The Russian-backed Syrian Arab Army (SAA) continues its march toward Raqqa, while the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – the US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance – have reached the northern outskirts of Manbij in eastern Aleppo.
There is no coordination between the two armies… at least, officially, Georges Malbrunot of Le Figaro notes.
"I would rather say that although it [the coordination] is unseen, it is quite real," an unnamed UN diplomat with knowledge of the matter told Malbrunot.
Earlier US Department of Defense spokesperson Peter Cook told journalists that the United States and Russia are not coordinating ground operations against Daesh in Syria.
Daesh commanders are seemingly alarmed about being cut off in the Aleppo governorate due to the two separate offensives launched by the SAA and the SDF, Al Masdar News reported.
"ISIS [Daesh] not only faces an imminent defeat in the Aleppo governorate but also expulsion from the Turkish-Syrian border, the Islamic State's last land connection to the outside world," the media outlet emphasized.
According to Al Masdar News, on Wednesday, the SAA's 555th Regiment of the 4th Mechanized Division and Desert Hawks liberated the last five kilometers of highway that leads up to the Rasafeh Crossroad in western Raqqa.
Meanwhile the SDF, who have liberated several dozen villages in the course of their ten-day offensive, briefly entered a neighborhood in the northern part of Manjib on Wednesday morning but were forced to retreat.
Manjib and its surroundings are of vital importance for Daesh, Malbrunot underscores. The crux of the matter is that the region serves as a transit route for the terrorist organization. New jihadists, weapons and money are coming into the city from Turkey via Jerablus (Jarabulus), located 30 kilometers north of Manjib. If the SDF takes control over Manjib and Jerablus, Daesh will be cut off from this important logistical axis. Needless to say, it would deal a heavy blow to the extremists.
Malbrunot explains that the SDF is supported by the US Air Force, a hundred American Special Ops troops and a handful of British SAS soldiers. Officially neither American nor British troops are taking part in frontline military operations.
However, the fact that some of them have been injured in the course of military operations proves otherwise, the French journalist remarks, citing the SDF sources.
In his Wednesday interview with Sputnik, Kurdish politician and a member of the opposition "Syrian Democratic Council" Raizan Heidu suggested that in the face of the SAA advance toward Raqqa Daesh militants will try to capture the Syrian city of Aleppo and declare it their new capital instead of Raqqa.
"The northern suburbs of Aleppo, in particular the village of Mare, are facing continuous attempts from Daesh to conquer it, to prevent the battle for Raqqa and to extend control over the city of Azaz," Heidu told Sputnik.
It is worth mentioning that the SAA has had no presence in Raqqa since August 2014. By liberating the city Damascus may finally upset Daesh's applecart and drastically change the course of war in Syria.
"It is good that Daesh fighters have to act on several fronts simultaneously," Haytham Manna, a member of the SDF, told Malbrunot.
And still, according to the Syrian opposition rebel, the SAA will be able continue its advance on Raqqa only if Daesh does not stab it in the back from the west-central Syrian city of Hama.
Manna warned that there is the possibility that Daesh will regroup and send its forces to the south, toward Jordan's border in the face of the "double-offensive" from the SAA and the SDF.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|