Assad forces and their allied militias have dislodged terrorist fighters from several strategic locations.
Syrian government forces and its allied paramilitary troops have reportedly moved into the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) stronghold of Raqqa province. As part of a renewed anti ISIS assault, these forces have managed to seize areas that are strategically important for the coming battles with the extremist group.
Syrian regime now controls the Salamiyah-Raqqa road that directly leads to the ISIS held territory within the province. Syrian Army advances are also observed in Tal Masbah where they captured a strategic hilltop with the help of Palestinians militia. This was the last ISIS entrenchment in the area.
A military source cited that the Syrian army is now advancing along the Salamiyah-Raqqa highway, toward the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa city. In another development, the regime forces launched another strike on the village of Zakiyah seizing a crossroads near it. This effectively cut one of the major supply lines of the Islamic State through the Hama Province.
The 555th Brigade of the Syrian army, the ‘Desert Hawks’ Brigade and the Golani Regiment along with the pro-regime Palestinian militia ‘Liwaa Al-Quds or Jerusalem brigade, took part in the offensive.
A source entrenched with the Syrian army reported that the IS fighters holed up on Tal Masba hill were forced to make their escape towards the Raqqa-Hama border in the desert. Currently pitch battles are taking place between the regime forces and the extremist fighters.
Syrian army advances are also obvious in and around the Tabaqah military airbase lying to the southwest of Raqqa. Islamic State had captured the airbase in 2014. The current developments in the battlefield clearly point towards opening of the Raqqa front starting from the Tabqa area.
Syrian army advance into the de Facto capital of Raqqa would offer Damascus with an opportunity to gain control of territory where it had effectively no presence for the past two years. This will also make it very difficult for Saudi Arabia to move its forces in the area.
Credible reports are indicating that Saudi Arabia is preparing for a troop deployment in Syria. Saudis are one of the main sponsors of the rebels who are battling the forces of Bashar al Assad.
Riyadh has also warned that Assad will be forcibly toppled if he does not step down when political transition was taking place. Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al Jubeir recently said in an interview that Bashar al Assad will either step down through a political process, or he will be removed by force but he has no part in Syria future.
The news of looming Saudi intervention in Syria, and the Turkish shelling of Regime and Kurdish positions has unfolded in the wake of Syrian army advances in Aleppo. It is being said that the fate of the war will be decided on the outcome of the battle for Aleppo.