US-Backed Kurds, Syrian Troops Make Gains Against ISIS in Raqqa Province

ISIS Capital Pinched Between Offensives in North and South

by Jason Ditz, June 05, 2016

The Syrian Army’s latest offensive against ISIS, launched late last week in the Hama Province, has advanced quickly, crossing into the southernmost portion of the Raqqa Province, whose provincial capital is the ISIS capital city.

This is coming at the same time as a US-backed offensive by the Kurdish YPG, which is covering some northern parts of Raqqa Province as well as neighboring Aleppo Province, leaving the city of Raqqa itself increasingly pinched between the two battles.

Early in the ISIS establishment of its caliphate, Raqqa was the de facto capital not just because it’s a big city, but because ISIS had pretty effective control of the entire region around it, linking it to all the other major ISIS possessions.

Increasingly that’s not the case, with Raqqa’s supply line to Mosul through contested Kurdish territory, and it’s supply line to Aleppo territory increasingly under pressure as well. There are still no indications that the city itself faces any near-term threats from any of its enemies, but it no longer enjoys the relative security it once did.

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