President Obama’s high-profile Wednesday speech announcing the expansion of his latest war into neighboring Syria has been taking deadly seriously by civilians in the line of fire.
Reports on the ground say thousands of civilians began pouring out of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the ISIS caliphate, after the speech, believing US airstrikes were imminent.
Many are fleeing into neighboring Turkey, overwhelming the ability of that nation to cope with another influx of refugees, even as they contend with ever-growing numbers of Syrians looking to flee the various wars.
ISIS is taking the prospect of the air war reaching Raqqa seriously too, and reports say that they have been relocating heavy weaponry out of the area, and many of the ISIS leaders are also moving to more durable shelters.
ISIS is unlikely to need major military force to keep control of Raqqa at this point, having effective expelled rival rebels from the area months ago, and seized the last Syrian base in recent weeks. The movement of heavy arms may, ironically, allow ISIS to go on the offensive against Syria even more than they already are.