Syria War Map: First Gains of YPG-led Advance on ISIS-controlled City of Raqqa

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Following the announcement of operation to isolate the ISIS-controlled Syrian city of Raqqa, the People’s Protection Units (YPG/the Syrian Democratic Forces) seized a number of villages in the northern countryside of this ISIS-controlled city.

YPG units took control of the villages of Jurah, Al-Wahib and Al Adriyah from ISIS militants. The YPG also entered the village of Laqtah (the fighting is ongoing there).

At least 3 US-led coalition air strikes in support of the YPG-led advance were reported by local sources.

Syria War Map: First Gains of YPG-led Advance on ISIS-controlled City of Raqqa

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  • Loveyou

    Now the Turkish president will not be able sleep ha ha ha ha ha ha

  • Serious

    American invasion of Syria.

    • Paciullo

      If ISIS die it’s ok.

      • Serious

        It’s not. Daesh has been created by CIA exactly for this.
        “Daesh” takes Syria and then USA takes Syria.

        • Paciullo

          First must die ISIS (Daesh) and after YPG make peace with Assad.

          • Serious

            Why don’t they make peace first and then attack ISIS with Assad ?
            Because they are traitors to Syria and are working for USA.

          • Paciullo

            I know you, but now Assad can’t attack ISIS, do you remember last February the operation for take Tabqa? Now Assad finish the work on Aleppo, near Damasco and after can attack ISIS with Putin.

          • Serious

            Yes, they will go east when USA will take everything left. Great plan. For now, SAA is advancing 1km per year. And when they have momemtum, they call for a truce in order to “moderate rebels” to rearm, to be resupply by USA allowing them to launch attacks.

            What a plan.

          • LZT1

            Wrong, right now the SAA is poised to wipe out the remainder of the terrorists in the rest of Syria, ISIL will be finished off in due course.

          • Gue Bjuen

            you got something wrong paciullo. IS is the weakest party among the syrian war. they are not that much of danger to the syrian government nor to russia.
            the greatest threat would occur after IS is gone.
            SERIOUS has a really good point. why don’t the kurds stop their uprise and join the syrian government? as llong as they don’t do that, they are the most dangerous rebel terrorists in this war, because they enjoy direct and open help from the US. everybody knows, kurds don’t only want a federate kurdish state.
            this factor brings russia closer to a direct confrontation with the US.
            if the kurds have their own country, why not the sunnis the shias and everybody else….. IS, moderate rebels and the kurds are all the same. they are serving as a US proxi in that region.

          • Paciullo

            We wait the end of Raqqa. The Syrian Arab Army now win in Aleppo, near Damascus and use the forse for Al-Bab. For me can be ok federate Syria. Kurds can help Assad against rebels on the north of Aleppo and Erdogan in this situation is lose. We wait the battle.

          • Gue Bjuen

            if the kurds really want to help end the syrian war, they should stop the uprise and join the syrian government. don’t you think that is a reasonable approach? what do you think about the realation between kurds and syria after IS is gone and the rebels are gone? SDF=FSA=IS=moderate oppostion they were all created by the same people.

          • Paciullo

            The kurds are against ISIS, moderate opposition, Turkey and Al Nusra, for my opinion can make an accord with SAA.

    • Admiral_Moorer_believed

      You missed out the word “Illegal” there. . .

  • Gue Bjuen

    it is impossible to take raqqa with only ypg and the US, unless the US has more troops in northen syria as they have claimed.

    so what is the purpose of this operation? with the recent developement, we could even say that
    every party in the syrian war are now allied against the turks. and yet, turks don’t seem to be much worried. everyone is now playing cool, but i think this is the most dangerous situation, everybody is playing with fire.

    IS was the buffer party in this war. without IS, the conflict won’t have that buffer party anymore.
    that will open the next phase of this war.

    • Joseph Scott

      Same question I asked above Pave Way IV: why do you think YPG can’t take Raqqa? YPG are good fighters, IS are terrible fighters and Raqqa is probably filled with mid-level admin people who are even worse than the usual IS losers.

      • Gue Bjuen

        the ypg is being exaggerated with it’s military strenght and it’s figthing capability. this is the real view of the US DOD and the trainers training kurds inside syria.
        how many fighters are taking part in the mosul operation siege and the aleppo siege?
        i don’t think they have 30000 fighters but let’s say they do, it’s still not enough for a siege. raqqa is now the only main city left free, how can you overrun that city with 30000 fighters?
        the US top command openly admited that the kurds are not able to hold raqqa after a so called liberation. how can you even take a city which you can not hold afterwards???
        does it make sense to you?

        • Joseph Scott

          Well, I base my assessment of the YPG off their actual performance in combat operations in Syria. They are clearly one of the most effective forces present. Look at how the short-lived Turkish-backed FSA offensive against them went. Likewise, IS are actually pretty terrible fighters, something that is well known. From western volunteers who fought with the Kurds, to Chechens who left them in disgust, to senior officers of the IDF, everyone knowns quite well that they are incompetent. Even their own videos make that plain.

          So, how many IS fighters do you think are in Raqqa? I don’t think they have more than 10,000, and most of their best fighters were already killed or joined other groups, so these are even worse than in previous battles. I think 24-30,000 YPG are quite capable of taking the city from them. I think something like 11-12,000 would suffice, in fact. And not hold it? Against whom are the YPG/SDF going to have to hold it? Against the FSA, backed by a single Turkish mechanised battalion? Against who? If there is a local force who is as combat effective as the YPG (and I dispute that there is) they would need to throw more than 2-2.5 times as many troops as the YPG have to defend with to have any chance of taking it. Who do you see who can throw 50-75,000 or more troops at Raqqa after the SDF takes it? Even the Turks, with proper equipment and heavy weapons would need to commit a good 4 or 5 brigades at a minimum to do that.

          • Gue Bjuen

            based on your idea, how long do you think will it take to take mosul? why do you think, they put so many fighters in the first place, to siege and take mosul?
            do you really think kurds have a chance to fight against the turkish military?????
            be real. don’t get so emotional. what you are talking about is based on your wishes and not the reality. the answer will be given if the kurds really try to siege raqqa, which i very doubt, because it would be a suicidal operation.

          • Joseph Scott

            What does Mosul have to do with this? The Iraqis are quite ineffective themselves. Iraq has fielded the second worst military in the ME for decades. That’s how IS got Mosul in the first place. The Iraqis threw down their weapons, abandoned their vehicles and fled. So of course they have a huge force to operate against Mosul.

            Yes, I think the YPG has a chance against the Turkish military. The Turks are decent soldiers, certainly some of the best locally, but they have been undermining their quality by letting Islamist elements take over in the last few years (the secular basis of their military was one of the main reasons for it’s quality), compounded by all the uncertainty and lowered morale caused by the coup and surrounding events. I certainly think YPG has a good chance against the single Turkish battalion battlegroup supporting the FSA on Euphrates Shield. Like I said, if the Turkish want to send in several brigades, then sure, they can contest the city with 20-30,000 YPG. But short of that, no.

            I’m not being emotional. I’ve studied military operations for 30 years. I’ve been doing operations research analysis for 20. I’m being completely objective, looking at the numbers and past performances of the forces involved. In Manbij, the SDF force, which was at least half local Arabs, was over twice as effective in inflicting casualties, relative to the forces involved and the situation, as the IS defenders. Back at Kobani in 2014-15, when IS still had plenty of Chechens, the YPG was getting a 2 to 1 casualty effectiveness superiority over them. Given that the local Arab fighters couldn’t contest Manbij against a slightly smaller IS force without YPG help, it seems evident that they weren’t any more effective than IS, so the difference in effectiveness was from the YPG element. Even if I assume the 50 German KSK and 50 US SF were directly participating, (and were extremely effective) that still has the YPG being more than 3 times as effective as IS in casualty effectiveness, which makes sense, given the loss of most of the Chechens and the general decline of IS fortunes by then. Furthermore, the 50 KSK are still in the area to the best of my knowledge, and would be involved in the Raqqa fight, as well as 300 US SF, or perhaps, as per Anthony Kordesman, several hundred more than that. So, given that, I feel quite certain that a mere 11-12,000 YPG, 300+ US SF and 50 German KSK could wrest the city from 10,000 IS fighters. Let me add the the Western SF present are quite keen on killing all the IS people they can, regardless of what their governments think. They are quite baffled by and hostile towards the CIA and US State Dept.’s schemes via it’s Salafist proxies.

            (If you are interested in looking at the numbers, let me recommend the works of Trevor N. Dupuy, specifically his Numbers, Predictions and War; Understanding War; and Attrition.)

          • Gue Bjuen

            scott…. if they were able to do the things you claimed they would have started much earlier… do you know how desperate the US was to start the operations in raqqa and mosul?? it’s your own government experts who said they can’t hold raqqa. how can you even take a city while you are not able to hold it???
            and you really believe kurds have any chance against the turkish military??? if they go after turkey without considering israel-US timetable, for sure they won’t have any back up from them.
            so militia based forces are fighting against regular military??
            do you really think the afgan fighters fought against the USSR only by them selves without any help from outside??
            do you think the rebels and IS are fighting the war without any help from the outside?
            what chance do the kurds have only by them selves to fight against turkey? i would say none.
            i don’t think there is much point in discussing this issue. let’s just see what happens in raqqa.

          • Joseph Scott

            I think the US has been trying to negotiate with the Turks, and I think the Kurds have been waiting and watching, to see what the Americans would do and what the Turkish would do. I don;t think YPG has been in much of a hurry, actually. Now that Erdogan has said his troops will take Raqqa, it’s very different.

            I’ve never heard any US official say that. However, let me point out that, having spent a brief time in the US military, and having studied these things for as long as I have, I can assure you you don’t really have to be that knowledgeable to become an ‘expert’ in the US establishment. The civilian officials tend to read a couple of trendy but idiotic books and a random think-tank study here or there and think they know all. The amount of stupid decisions caused just by Toffler’s 4th Generation Warfare and one paper that (incorrectly) analysed German armour usage in the Stalingrad is immense. The whole US economic-industrial-military system doesn’t really know how to look for ability, so it looks for shiny but often meaningless credentials.

            Military officers here are likewise often not that well-versed in their professions. I recommend Muth’s Command Culture for a good analysis of why that is. Suffice it to say that the actual requirements in place to become an officer select more for social class (ability to pay for college) and physical fitness than any actual command or analytical ability. Examine Operation Gothic Serpent, where one may observe some of the Army’s most ‘elite’ officers, members of 1st SFOD-D and the Rangers in action. Almost every useful decision taken was made by an NCO or junior enlisted person. The officers continually failed to have any idea what to do, and sat stupefied as events unravelled around them. Don’t expect their analysis of foreign fighting groups to be any better.

            Lastly, your assumption that regular troops must automatically be better than an irregular militia is in error. Fighting quality varies greater in all types of military organisations, regular or irregular. The Kurds have the type of decentralised, flexible organisation that produces as effective military culture. (Examples: Germany, Israel.) Now, look back to the 1st and 2nd Boer Wars in South Africa. The armies of Transvaal and the Orange Free State were in fact volunteer militia very much like the YPG in organisation. They continually outfought the British in both wars, winning the majority of the battles and inflicting considerably higher casualties per soldier, despite the fact that they were facing one of the world’s best professional armies. They were only ground down by vastly superior numbers. Another case in point: the American militia that began the American Revolutionary War tended to have better success than the Continental Army that Washington formed to replace them. Irregular organisations often have more initiative and flexibility. As long as they have some inherent self-discipline that pushes them to train, they can easily equal or exceed professionals , who, I can attest from experience, often aren’t that skilled.

  • Hanny Benny

    the post-isis-game will be more interest ;)

    • LZT1

      Exactly

  • Pave Way IV

    The curvy double-line drawn on the above Wikimapia map was suppose to depict the self-chosen borders of what the American-usurped PYD considers Rojava (vs. Syrian) territory. The move to Laqtah is interesting because it’s been stalled for months now.

    The current SDF movements could also be nothing more than a continuation of the months-old campaign to take over the little rural villages surrounding north Raqqa without engaging ISIS forces in urban Raqqa itself. That ‘front’ was opened about the same time the SDF crossed the Euphrates and started moving on Manbij.

    I doubt the SDF forces on this front amount to anything near the 30,000 claimed. If the push to Raqqa has truly started, then it will require the U.S. to level most of Raqqa and kill just about anybody and everybody inside the city itself. There are no refugee camps set up in advance like the (mostly inadequate) ones for Mosul, so the fleeing residents will be forced to live in the surrounding desert all winter. And I’m guessing we’re not going to see any White Helmets rescuing dusty children from the coalition’s scorched earth Raqqa bombing campaign. Now if Russia were bombing it…

    • Joseph Scott

      Out of friendly curiosity, why don’t you think they’ve got 30,000? Would you be willing to offer an alternate number you find reasonable?

      Second, why do you think they will have such a hard time taking the city? I suspect Raqqa is pretty low on fighters, and high on fat IS administrators right now. That aside, the YPG are pretty good fighters, while IS are actually pretty lousy ones. IS had it’s greatest success against Iraqis, and they are also pretty terrible at fighting. In Syria, there were some vaguely more capable militants alongside IS, and an SAA that, at that outset wasn’t that great either, but as it improved, IS has gotten pushed to the periphery here. IS are truly terrorists, in that they rely on terror to win, because small unit tactics, discipline and even skilful handling of weapons seem to be things they have problems with. Consequently, I’m not expecting the SDF to have much problems destroying IS forces here.

      • LZT1

        Defenders always hold the advantage in urban warfare.

        But yes, ISIL will be defeated in good time.

        • Joseph Scott

          Yes, certainly true. Defenders pretty well always have the advantage, due to less exposure and more time to engage targets. According to the most accurate operations model I’ve seen, defenders in an urban environment have their effective strength multiplied by between roughly 2 and 2.5 depending on how thoroughly they’ve prepared.

          On the basis of past combat, I believe YPG is more than 2 to 2.5 times as good as IS, and IS has been declining steadily. These rather mercenary jihadists seem to jump around from one group to another, depending on who seems to be winning, and who offers the best pay and benefits. Back in 2014, IS still had some decent fighters mixed in amongst their otherwise sad collection of failures looking to prove themselves; for example, they had a decent body of Chechens that al-Shishani brought in. But IS amirs’ bossy micromanagement, inability to respect personal/family space and tactical incompetence alienated most of the Chechens, who moved on to groups like Jaish al-Mujaheedin and such, on top of which, the Russians have made a very concerted effort to specifically target and eliminate all the Caucausus emigres and al-Shishani is dead or hospitalised; meanwhile as their land and oil revenue shrank, their ability to offer competitive pay, slaves and the like has shrunk considerably, so everyone else has been jumping ship in droves. What they have left is people who have a high enough position to want to stay (and they are notorious for not actually fighting in IS), or people who just don’t have anywhere else to go.

          The 30,000 figure is apparently what CJCS Dunford gave in April. It’s kind of funny, because initially, it consisted of 24,000 Kurds and 6000 Arabs, but when they ‘looked harder’ for Arabs they found that, lo and behold, another 8,000 of those Kurds were actually Arabs, apparently! Total YPG field strength in Syria has been estimated to possibly be as high as 65,000. The YPG itself claimed 50,000 back in 2014. Obviously a significant piece of that is in Afrin, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable that they could field 24,000 fighters around Raqqa if they wanted. There are about 300 US SF with them. That slimy CFR idiot Anthony Cordesman has suggested the US will send several hundred more SF, but avoid mentioning it to anyone, using the cover of making it a ‘temporary duty’ assignment to avoid any reporting obligations.

      • Admiral_Moorer_believed

        Given the US did everything it could to stop the Iraqi army from stopping ISIL escaping from Mosul to Raqqa, there may be a lot more fighters there than people think. . .

        • Joseph Scott

          That’s true, yet the IS contingent in Mosul seem to be mostly Iraqis who don’t want to leave. The biggest estimate I have seen is 8,000 leaving, and I think the US wants to channel them to Deir el-Zour, which is closer, and where IS has a much more secure position. I don’t think IS will be able to muster more than 10,000 actual fighters to defend Raqqa. (I expect a fair amount of their middle-management and high command to try to slip away before they fighting begins, as they have done elsewhere.)

          • Admiral_Moorer_believed

            I hear that the US will be flying out their operatives within ISIL to another battle field somewhere else in the world. . .

            The game will be over soon in Iraq and Syria as Russia, Iran and Lebanon have put a spoke in the works of the US trying to destroy Syria.

            Including the Syrian military which is about 60% Sunni. . .

          • Joseph Scott

            Yes, I think that’s pretty likely, and that is another reason I don’t expect Raqqa to be too prolonged. The US is probably getting ready to move along to greener fields, so they’ll salvage what they can, and try and ‘sanitise’ the rest, making sure everyone not useful and portable goes the way of al-Shishani so they can’t tell tales. Hence, having YPG kill their no longer useful or effective minions is perfectly satisfactory to them. It also gives them something to brag about, to prop up the pretence that they are fighting IS, which is important domestically, especially with their own military (who naturally don’t like Salafist terrorists), as much as internationally.

      • Pave Way IV

        The U.S. propaganda wasn’t even able to explain their goofball numbers from the long-stalled Euphrates North operation. The U.S./PYD math seems to simply add up anyone willing to fight ISIS anywhere in the canton for anything at any time and ignores that that number may not be the same as SDF willing and able to go to the front in Euphrates North and stay there indefinitely. That ‘overestimation’ was recokoned on social media (admittedly guesses) at about double of the actual forces. The advances and territory held in Euphrates North after all the initial excitement seem consistent with that number (~15k) and entirely inconsistent with a ridiculously overstated fantasy force of 30k SDF. That number was always laughable unless you mobilized the entire canton less the Manbij forces.

        What the U.S. never says is that many Kurds in the YPG ‘numbers’ still don’t consider themselves part of a federal PYD army – it’s not as monolithic as either the U.S. or PYD claim. ALL YPG are counted in SDF numbers, but not all YPG were willing (or did) participate in Euphrates North. Even fewer YPG will be willing to die to kick ISIS out of an Arab city outside the purported borders of Rojava. Now subtract the few thousand that the PYD had to peel off and devote to the defense of Tal Abyad from the Turks.

        YPG will fight for their homes and farms (and their neighbor’s homes and farms) but are reluctant to travel a 100km away to fight ISIS-occupied Raqqa. Manbij was a mixed city, and was in the planned Rojava territorial borders. It was an exception. Raqqa will require the U.S. to sneak in their few thousand Turkish Kurd mercs it trained in Barzanistan last year. That alone will further infuriate Syrian YPG Kurds.

        • Joseph Scott

          Thanks. That was the sort of answer I was hoping for. I noticed the didn’t end up throwing that many people at Manbij, though with the Kurds, it was unclear if that was about politics with the locals and Turks at the time.

          Everything you suggest makes sense. Indeed, the very independent, decentralised nature that helps produce YPG’s relative effectiveness in combat would also reinforce exactly the tendencies you describe.

          Well, as you may have seen above, it’s been suggested that a couple hundred more US SF could be snuck in. They could probably get a squadron of SAS/SBS pulled from whatever they are doing locally too. I have yet to see an estimate of what IS has there, but if my estimate of maximum 10,000 is correct, I think they could pull of a comparable advance rate to Manbij with maybe 19,000 YPG plus 350-400 western ‘advisors.’ I think they could take the city with 15,000, it would just be slower.

          • Pave Way IV

            Does any of this really matter though, JS? Dunford just sold out the Kurds in Ankara and gave Turkey the green light to ‘help’ take over AND OCCUPY ar Raqqa. Tell me how a single Kurd is going to join a bloody fight that basically gives ar Raqqa to their enemy, Turkey?

            The U.S. has just thrown the Kurds under the bus (once again) and pretty much promised Turkey that they could split what was to be Rojava from Tal Abayd to Ar Raqqa. By ‘agreeing’ that the Turks would not just help seize ar Raqqa, but ‘hold and govern’ it, the U.S. also assented to a corridor from the Turkish border to ar Raqqa – on that happens to run right through Tal Abayd and splits Hasakah canton from Kobane canton. It won’t be formally described as such, but it will provide Erdogan easy access to any troublesome Kurds in northern Syria.

            The question of *Kurdish* SDF forces for an ar Raqqa campaign is sort of moot now that the U.S. and Turkey have agreed to carve up Rojava and take ar Raqqa for themselves. The only question left is how the U.S. will spin the latest betrayal of the Kurds.

          • Joseph Scott

            Let me offer an alternative take on all this. All the US has done with their various statements of late is tacitly admit they have no control over what is going on down there. So, first Ergodan announced, many days ago, they he will take Al-Bab and Raqqa and drive the Kurds out of Manbij. So, long before anybody cared what the US JCS thought, he stated he was going to do this. FSA-Turkish attacks on YPG begins. Then YPG responds by stating that they ill take Al-Bab and Raqqa, and further, that they won;t permit the Turks to advance farther south. Syrians agree, and declare no fly-zone for Turkey. FSA-Turkish offensive fails, and YPG starts taking territory from them.

            So, before the US has said a word, both the Turks and the YPG have stated they will take Al-Bab and Raqqa, and they are fighting each other. The Kurds made their announcement in the full knowledge that they will be fighting he Turks to do this. Only then does Townsend come in and confirm that the YPG will take Raqqa, as if it had been our idea all along. He wanted to make it seem like this was all part of the official US plan, and not that the YPG was actually making up their own plans in conjunction with Syria. However, that offended the Turks, so Dunford has t come along and announce that what the Turks announced days ago is also part of the US plan, even though it’s quite obvious that these statements are mutually incompatible. Meanwhile, US officials are completely ignoring the fact that their two ‘allies’ are engaged in combat right now.

            In fact, Turkey and the YPG have already stated quite plainly that they will fight each other for Al-Bab and Raqqa, and the YPG can count on Syrian support for that. The US is left to smile nervously and try to look authoritative. Clearly, YPG think they can take the FSA, IS and whatever small forces the Turks commit, which so far has proved wholly correct.

          • Pave Way IV

            Makes sense. Trouble is that you know Dunford was schooled by the Turks on what they would do. An those plans HAVE to include Turkish troops and armor rolling in to Syria. I don’t know what Dunford could have possibly said to Turkey except “please don’t do that”. They probably laughed in his face.

            I agree that the U.S. is not driving the bus in Syria anymore – the U.S. DoD’s strange, awkwardly-timed after-the-fact announcements are frankly a little embarrassing.

            I tended to think Erdogan won’t go so far as troop/armor invasion in the past, but he has now seen how impotent his headchoppers are without air support and beyond the range of Turkish artillery. If he simply attempted to march the Turkish FSA straight through to al Bab or especially ar Raqqa by themselves, they would be slaughtered. On the other hand, the Kurds don’t have a chance if the FSA show up with a couple of Turkish armored divisions behind them. Whatever ‘deal’ Dunford tried to make apparently failed. And now he’s in Riyadh? Lord only knows what kind of fall-back schemes he’s pulling out of his ass down there.

          • Joseph Scott

            I agree, Turkey is intending direct involvement. The question is, how much? Putting a single battalion BG behind FSA implies they didn’t want to make too overt of an invasion. But they were counting on airpower, which is now off the table, and the force they’ve got is clearly insufficient. They will need to put multiple brigades in if they want to have a chance. I guess we get to see how adventurous they are feeling.

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  • Hez B63

    SDF can attack Daesh holed up building to buildings and can liberate Raqqa with the help of coalition air strikes. SDF can win even if they attack in one line formation up to the border where they can wipe Daesh out of Raqqa.