Units of the 75th Ranger Regiment is going to liberate the Syrian capital of the Islamic State terrorist group.
The Pentagon plans to send units of the 75th Ranger Regiment, which were recently dispatched to Syria, to storm the city of Raqqa, the Izvestiya newspaper reported. In previous months, they were intensively preparing to fight in the urban area. Rangers will jointly operate with marines and Kurdish detachments, which are part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). However, experts doubt that in Raqqa it will be possible to avoid mistakes, which were earlier made during the liberation of Mosul.
As it became known from social networks, in the previous months, the US units, which were sent to Syria this week, were intensively preparing for conducting battles in the urban area. It is supposed that the 3rd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment will be the main strike force in the upcoming operation on the liberation of Raqqa. Marines, arrived to Syria, will provide artillery support to the forces that will storm the city. Additional reserves concentrate on bases in Kuwait and will be dispatched to the battlefield if the situation demands it.
According to official statements of Pentagon officials, Raqqa should be taken by the SDF, which includes not only Kurdish, but also Arab and Christian formations, as local Arab residents do not trust Kurds, fearing massacres. However, the numerical strength of non-Kurdish detachments does not exceed a couple of thousands, and this is clearly not enough to seize the capital of the self-proclaimed caliphate. The level of their combat training also leaves something to be desired.
Presumably, the storming of Raqqa will be conducted according to the same scenario as in Mosul. At the first stage, the US and local forces will raid the city’s neighborhoods, being a part of mobile armored groups, in order to provoke militants to fire and identify their strongholds. After this, militants should be eliminated by the air power, artillery and unmanned aerial vehicles. In addition, air support will be provided not only by aircraft of the US-led coalition, but also by the Russian Aerospace Forces.
At the second stage, US troops should already not only make sallies into terrorist-controlled neighborhoods, but also capture key facilities there in order to force militants to counterattack. Rangers have been specifically trained to conduct close combat during the past six months on the Fort Benning base and in the National Training Center in California, where there are special units, simulating militants.
As the newspaper noted, such tactics were actively used by rangers in Afghanistan in 2006-2008. They landed in the depths of the Taliban-controlled territory and created strong points in places, where the enemy simply had to attack them. The Taliban lost hundreds of its fighters, however, at the same time, civilians also suffered. For this reason, the Command made a choice in favor of more traditional ways of conducting military operations.
According to observers’ estimates, Raqqa is protected by up to 4,000 fighters, who had three years to prepare the city for defense – to dig underground tunnels for covert transfer of the forces, equip firing points and lay thousands of homemade landmines. In addition, there can be up to 300,000 civilians in the city, whom terrorists will surely use as a human shield.
It is expected that the storming of Raqqa will be started in a few weeks, when the operation for the city’s isolation is completed. At the moment, Kurdish units have bypassed Raqqa from the north along an arc a few tens of kilometers in radius and are approaching the Euphrates.
In this way, the first goal is to take the IS capital into a semi-ring, which will be limited by the deep river from the south. This will allow to cut off terrorists from reinforcements and theoretically give civilians time to flee. Meanwhile, the US Air Force carries out airstrikes on Raqqa’s neighborhoods, bombing strongholds of militants and their military equipment.