Facing Growing Pressure in Raqqa, ISIS Redeploys
With reports of mounting losses in the Raqqa Province amid a three-front war inside Syria, ISIS appears to have shifted tactics and withdrawn its troops from the frontlines in their offensive against the northwestern Raqqa Province cities of Marea and Azaz.
ISIS had been making huge gains against the “moderate Islamist” rebel factions in the area, fighting them while facing an offensive in northern Raqqa by the Kurdish YPG. That changed dramatically last week, when the Syrian military sought to take advantage of ISIS’ shifted focus by attacking through Hama into southern Raqqa.
Though ISIS has been losing ground in Raqqa on both fronts, the decision to abandon the Aleppo offensive outright comes as something of a surprise, as many had believed they were very close to taking the important border town of Azaz outright and ending that fight in an outright victory.
The US had airlifted in some weapons and ammo in Marea to help those rebels resist ISIS, but how much impact that ended up having is unclear. The real problem, it seems, is that ISIS simply couldn’t sustain a three-front war any longer, and Aleppo was the only one they could actually abandon.
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