Sunday, June 11, 2017

Syria Situation Report: June 1 - 8, 2017

(ISW) The U.S. and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched operations to seize full control of Ar-Raqqa City from ISIS. The SDF formally announced the start of clearing operations along three axes and later entered an outlying district of Ar-Raqqa City. Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) Commander Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend predicted a “long and difficult fight” for the city but stressed that the offensive would “deliver a decisive blow” to ISIS in Iraq and Syria. ISIS has fortified Ar-Raqqa City to a level similar to Mosul in Northern Iraq with the likely intent to inflict heavy casualties upon the SDF. ISIS has also reportedly redeployed a large portion of its leadership and external attack capabilities to Deir ez-Zour Province in Eastern Syria, limiting the strategic impact of operations against Ar-Raqqa City.

The U.S. demonstrated its continued intent to defend its operations in Southern Syria. The U.S. conducted a second airstrike targeting a pro-regime convoy advancing against opposition groups backed by the U.S. and Jordan at Al-Tanaf on the Syrian-Iraqi Border. The incident follows a similar strike against a pro-regime convoy near Al-Tanaf on 18 MAY. The U.S. stressed that the Anti-ISIS Coalition does “not seek to fight” pro-regime forces but reiterated its willingness to “defend itself” if pro-regime forces fail to depart a “well-established deconfliction zone” in Southern Syria. Russia, Iran, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will likely continue to challenge the Anti-ISIS Coalition along the Iraqi-Syrian Border to preempt any long-term expansion by the U.S. in Eastern Syria.