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Military Situation In Area Of Al-Raqqah On January 9, 2017 (Syria Map Update)

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The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), backed up by the US-led coalition’s airpower and military advisers, have been developing an advance against ISIS terrorists in the Syrian province of al-Raqqah.

Recently, YPG units have deployed closer to the strategic Tabqa Dam and seized a number of villages northwest of the ISIS self-proclaimed capital of al-Raqqah.

Now, the YPG is seeking to encircle ISIS units deployed in the area betweeen Dabashiyah and Job Shaeer.

Military Situation In Area Of Al-Raqqah On January 9, 2017 (Syria Map Update)

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There’s no way that they’ll ever be able to secure the dam, due to the necessity of a buffer zone south of the river, which would be vulnerable to attack from west, south and east, it will never happen. They probably just want to reach the river and when the government finally gets there, they’ll look for some sort of energy sharing deal.



I think the SDF will try to take the dam, straight like they did Tishreen dam or in combination with a nearby crossing of the Euphrates like they did earlier in june prior to attacking Manbij, using the same ponton boats.


The Tabqa dam is not like smaller Tishreen. It is 4.5 km in length! Leading to Ba’ath dam reservoir a little downstream. Crossing river points below dam may be wide and marsh-like, and covered with ISUS fire from other side.


Correct, plus well defended, mined approaches and civilians held as hostages/human shields atop the dam. Not an easy walk in the park. SDF need to seize junction by Bir Khujwaym/Widyan area and block all Daí’sh counter-attacks launched from Salhabiyat al-Gharbiya district before even thinking about Tabqa Dam.


Could be the SDF/YPG have over-extended their forces, still not secured countryside SW Ayn Issa and been halted just south of Tal as-Saman for two months, seemingly unable or unwilling to move on down the Baliikh River valley against determined Da’ish delaying defense. Raqqa city has great natural defenses out to 25-30 km, terrain and water barriers, multiple wadi, culverts & bridged crossings/obstacles to ground advances, no doubt natural defensive lines have been strengthened over the months. TABQA Dam cannot be “taken ” from the north alone, this requires a co-ordinated west-to-east attack along the right bank of the Euphrates astride the parallel N4 road/rail/powerlines and re-taking the airbase of Tabqa. Between Tabqa Dam and Raqqa there are 5 major crossings : Tabqa Dam itself, SNR Railway Bridge (Lat 35,86 Long 38,70) Ba’ath Dam, and the 2 major road bridges into the city. All of these must be seized and secured before assaulting into urban Raqqa, as must the approaches from the north and along the left bank. This will be a slow process (vide. Mosul ISFstill yet to reach the Tigris and seize the 5 bridges !). Maybe the SDF can muster the forces to mount a night-time crossing of Lake Assad in sufficient strength but I doubt it. In a perfect world the SAA would blitz from Deir Hafer eastwards to the right bank, secure their JIRAH airbase and continue SE astride the N4 while a mechanized brigade (555 +?) advanced NE from ITHRIYAH in a pincer movement. Good scenario or pipedream ?


The last is a pipedream like the last try of the SAA to try to reach the dam area. They would have an exposed flank ofover a hundred kms nor have they gathered the necessary forces or a staging area.

As for theSDF crossing the Euphrates with the ponton boats they have, I cannot tell. To create a bridgehead is almost always possible considering your enemy does not know exactly where you will strike. Holding and expanding a bridgehead is always the problem. This is exactly where US airsupport is crucial.

The SDF has ever been for cautious advances and prefers pincers movements. A head on attack on Raqqah will most likely not work for them, just like the head on attack of the TSK on Al Bab does not work either.

For me it is clear SDF will try to take the dam after first securing their rear and with a river crossing, either before or after the attack on the dam.

Once secure and after blocking the N4, they will most likely stop and start digging in. It has ever been SDF strategy to start digging in and consolidate the new holdings, which is why most IS counterattacks against SDF have failed.

The third phase will be from Shaadadi southward along the river towards Markadah and beyond and towards the Euphrates between Raqqah and DeirezZor. Staging areas are filling with personnel and materiel and extra US special forces have been flown in.

It might take a few week to end phase two and phase three might start around late januari, early februari..

Somewhere around early march phase four, the assault on Raqqah itself, could begin and then i would depend on how many arab forces the SDF will hae trained by that time and on how much heavy weapons the SDF will have.

Phase four wil also depend on the guts of Trump. He might like a clear victory early on his watch as preident.


Always good to have alternate assessment but I stand by my appreciation, backed up by facts on the ground and detailed info, re Dai’sh defenses around Raqqa (out to 25-30 kms ). AMN itself confirms build-up of SAA battlegroups ( 3+ bn)around Kuweis AB for major offensive east to Deir Hafer and beyond (JIRAH AB, right bank Lake Assad). Meantime SAA has moved more units (up to brigade strength) for a substantial strike force based around 555 brigade at ITHRIYAH, Asuming SAA first objective achieved then a subsequent pincer movement towards TABQA AB+dam is possible, but of course this is purely my SPECULATION not predicting as I don’t have actual Operation Orders to hand lol ! In any case an advance by SAA from ITHRIYAH north-eastwards is certainly a course of action because Dai’sh has almost no fixed defenses with indirect fire support en route, and of course the SAA battlegroup will not sail into “Indian country ” without securing its lines of supply as it goes ( a few terrorist technicals here can disrupt but not cut off a strengthened mech brigade LOS over 80 km of open countryside). This war has shown time and again :
1. Multiple phases rarely occur as planned or wished
2. Blue force (own, friendly) cheerleaders over-estimate their capabilities/intent.
3. Orange (enemy, not NL ! ) forces strength, capabilty, intent, and MORALE are alway underestimated. The days of rag-tag jihadi cannon fodder are gone.

Welcome your comments, even if I assess situation differently

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x