Battle for Raqqa, Syria
Syrian Democratic Forces backed by Americans, began the battle for Raqqa, the “defacto” capital of ISIS in Syria. But it won’t be a cake walk, as the city is well fortified — mines planted both outside and inside the city, booby traps, VBIEDs (Vehicle Borne Improved Explosive Devices), tunnels under the city, snipers, and the inevitable suicide bombers. Not to mention using civilians as shields to slow the progress of the SDF.
Operation Wrath of Euphrates
Military Times reported, [Note: VOA reported 3,00-5,000 ISIS fighters]:
Some 2,500 ISIS fighters remain inside the city, U.S. officials estimate. On Thursday, Kurdish militia — backed by coalition air power and American combat advisers — seized much of eastern Raqqa’s al Mishlab neighborhood and established their first foothold there, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The U.S. military later confirmed its movement.
“Coalition SOF are in Raqqa, and they are close to the front lines,” said Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesperson for the U.S.-led coalition battling ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The Americans are not “kicking down doors,” Dillon added. Rather, their primary mission is to advise partner forces, though they are authorized to defend themselves.
To be blunt, yes, our Special Operators in Syria for the fight in Raqqa are likely to be in harm’s way. The SDF is made up in large part of Kurdish forces, much to the chagrin of Turkey. US “advise and assist” troops are reportedly increasingly having to get closer and closer to the fighting, often supposed to go to “the last cover-and-concealed position from the front line of advance of the partner force.” But…that doesn’t always happen in the middle of a tense situation.
The forces have surrounded Raqqa and cut off ISIS’ exit. US Air Strikes have destroyed numerous boats and barges filed with ISIS fighters fleeing the city. The problem is that Shi’ite militias backed by Iran/Russia/Assad are also in this mix. They want to obtain some land between Tehran and the Mediterranean, which the US coalition is trying to prevent.
Wresting Raqqa away from everybody could prove extremely difficult.