Syrian Kurds, Rebels Advance Into ISIS Territory in Raqqa

19 Villages Seized From ISIS Along Key Highway

Backed by some other rebel factions, Syrian Kurdish forces have advanced into the Raqqa Province, the center of ISIS territory, and the home of the city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the caliphate.

The Kurdish YPG, which is leading the offensive, has seized 19 villages along a highway spanning the Raqqa Province, and seems to be aiming primarily to link their own main city, Hassakeh, to Kobani and other rebel possessions in Aleppo Province.

The YPG claims to have taken “about 240 villages” across the area around Kobani as well in the past few weeks, since ISIS ended their most recent offensive against the key border town. These villages are in Aleppo Province.

The Kurds may be looking to take an ISIS border town for themselves along the way, with the villages currently being focused on drawing near Tal Abyad, a key border crossing into Turkey.

The highway in question never comes closer than 35 miles to the city of Raqqa itself, so it isn’t necessarily a serious threat to ISIS’ capital even if they cede the villages. Still, ISIS at one point held the entire province, which for completeness’ sake was a big deal.

This tends to be how villages work in civil war Syria, however, with various combatant factions taking large numbers of relatively undefended villages during offensives, then losing them just as quickly in follow-ups.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of