Home / OPINION / Analysis / The ‘Race to Raqqa’ – How Syria Intends to Fight It

The ‘Race to Raqqa’ – How Syria Intends to Fight It

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Syria’s likely campaign plan for the all important push into ISIS-half eastern part of the country to preempt Turkish/Saudi/US designs on that piece of Syria territory.

Moon of Alabama

There is today a lot of indignation in “western” media over the Russian air campaign in Syria. One, two, three, … hospitals were bombed!. And schools! An the rebels lost more villages! Barrel bombs! Cluster bombs! One must ask how many of these “hospitals” were really hospitals and not just quarters for Jihadi “rebels”.

From the videos that were published I could identify only one destroyed building that might have been a real hospital. But ever there no medical equipment was visible in the debris. Could this probably arranged media assault be the preparation for some new false flag stunt or some other planned escalation?

Hardly any mentions was made today about continued Turkish shelling of Kurdish towns in Syria. As soon as the Syrian artillery will be near the border, in a week or so, such shelling will be answered and the situation will then escalate very fast.

The Russian promised that the The “Gates of hell” will be open in the coming months in Syria. The current massive Russian bombing is the beginning of that campaign. “Rebels” running away from a town due to bombing are not able to kill the Syrian soldiers that then enter that town.

Houses and infrastructure can be rebuild but dead soldiers can not be resurrected. That is the simple rule that now guides the Syrian government campaigns. There are no hints yet of how exactly the liberation of Aleppo province, rebel held parts of Aleppo city and in Idleb will proceed. There is a bigger campaign plan behind it but it is not yet visible.

From the south west a brigade sized force of the Syrian army (red), soon to be reinforced by volunteer units, is pushing north-east towards Tabqa airbase which lies south of Route 4 and the city of Al Tawra. Both are held by the Islamic State (grey). The troops are now some 15 kilometers away from the base.

Should the Syrian army take the base it would achieve firecontrol over Route 4 from Turkey via Al Bab to Raqqa and could stop most Islamic State traffic on that road.

Should the army take Al Taqra city it could also capture the Taqwa dam of the Assad barrier lake. Then all Islamic State forces west of the Euphrates would be completely cut of from Raqqa and Iraq.

They could be further split up by Syrian army forces coming from Aleppo going east and in the north by Kurdish forces (yellow) going west. The Islamic State would lose a lot of terrain in that move and, much more important, its sole open access route to Turkey.

The difficult attack on Raqqa city itself, some 15 kilometers further east, would only come after the Tabqa base and Al Tawra are taken.

But few military plans survive the contact with the enemy and there are other forces that would like to get their hands on Raqqa before the Syrian army reaches it

Last week the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim visited the Turkish President Erdogan in Istanbul. Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar have declared that they would join the announced Saudi ground campaign against the Islamic State should the U.S. take the command and lead. Saudi fighter jets have landed in Incirlik airbase. A Kuwaiti air transport plane landed in Hatay today, allegedly filled with weapons. The Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu is visiting Ukraine with a large delegation. Is there some coordination ongoing? A diversion in Ukraine to keep the Russians busy in Ukraine while an Turkish/Gulf Arab attack is launched on Syria? Or vice versa?

While the situation for the Syrian government and its allies looks much better now than six month ago, the war on Syria is far from over. It may well expand and escalate further before an end is in sight.