Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis is claiming that ISIS is trying to move its leadership operations away from their current capital city of Raqqa, apparently in expectation that the ongoing US efforts to “surround” the city have scared them into moving their whole operation “down-river.”
Davis says the a lot of ISIS administrators and bureaucrats have been fleeing Raqqa, aiming to get their important non-combatants out of the area before it is totally “encircled.” Of course, the US and its Kurdish allies have been hyping the effort to “encircle” Raqqa for months, and only really have control over the northern reaches of the city.
Officials were not clear on where they think ISIS is moving to, with the “down river” comment giving the impression that ISIS is going to try to move their capital into the Deir Ezzor Province. This might make some sense, since ISIS controls effectively that whole province, apart from a single air base and part of the provincial capital.
It is not, however, clear why ISIS would be in such a hurry to move at this point, as again the US-backed offensive has gone at a snail’s pace, and there is no sign that they are going to cut off the exits from Raqqa to Deir Ezzor any time soon, meaning they can really come and go at their leisure.