On December 9, Russian forces entered the city of Raqqa for the first time since the start of their anti-terrorism operation in 2015. A unit of the Russian Military Police set up a temporary humanitarian point and provided locals with aid. According to the Russian side, such humanitarian actions will be a regular practice.
A series of firefights erupted between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and Turkish-led forces to the southeast of Ras al-Ayn. Nonetheless, no side carried out offensive actions. Local sources links the recent clashes with individual initiative of some field commanders.
Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units have deployed large reinforcements near the Syrian-Iraqi border, west of Mosul.
According to the PMU statement, the 8th Brigade deployed in the Jazira Al-Hadr area after it had received information that large number of terrorists were preparing attacks on security forces in the border area. The report once again emphasized that the PMU is deployed along the Syrian-Iraqi border in order to prevent ‘infiltration’ of terrorists.
The ISIS threat is an important factor influencing the security situation in western Iraq. Despite this, some sources linked this with the recent escalation in the Syrian border area of al-Bukamal. During the past week, alleged ‘Iranian targets’ in al-Bukamal were repeatedly hit by supposed Israeli strikes.
Most likely, the PMU leadership expects that this situation may be used by ISIS to increase its activity in the region. The terrorist group may try to exploit the instability on the border to carry out attacks on both Iraqi and Syria targets in the region. So, the PMU is preparing to repel these attacks.