The ISIS terrorist group has regained control of the al-Zakia Junction and al-Zayn Hills in the southeastern part of Raqqa province after the Syrian Arab Army withdrew to Ithriyah. Pro-government sources argue that this was a tactical move and no heavy clashes have been observed, recently.
Ground sources provide different reasons of the recent setbacks, but the most important of them are:
- high effectivity of surprise vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks:
- a lack of the air support from the Russian air grouping located in Syria.
SouthFront can hardly explain the problems with countering VBIED strategy of the SAA grouping in Raqqa province, especially amid reports about a high number of Russian military advisers there. It’s needed to get more info to make a conclusion.
On the other hand, a lack of the air support from the Russian Aerospace Forces is easily explained:
The Russian airbase in Latakia is located far away from the areas in Raqqa. This complicates significantly close air support because a big flying time to the target doesn’t allow to hit evading targets that move fast in the desert. Information of forward air controllers become outdated very fast. This is why the main striking force of the Russian military grouping in Syria – warplanes – is focused on stationary targets in different regions of Syria.
Syrian Army prepares for counter-attack
Some pro-government forces distribute reports that the SAA grouping at the broder of Raqqa province is receiving reinforcements in order to counter-attack ISIS units in the area.
For example, AlMasdarNews released a video of a convoy of the Desert Hawks Brigade, alledgedly arrived to the east Hama countryside in order to participate in the SAA’s advance on the Tabaqa military airport.