While the Syrian Democratic Forces approach the Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold of al-Raqqa city from the north, the Syrian Arab Army has declared an offensive to claim it from the south.
The SAA had advanced 10 kilometers of the 140 kilometers total distance from the city itself. Despite this massive undertaking, the government claims to fly the regime’s flag over Raqqa within 2 – 3 weeks.
With ongoing offensives against the Islamic State occurring in Iraq at Fallujah, and by the Syrian Democratic Forces on both Raqqa and Manbij, the Islamic State is already strained for resources, shuffling forces between frontlines.
Between the SAA and al-Raqqa lies Tabqa Military Airbase, a potential target for government forces. Control over the airbase could provide a location for the Syrian Airforce to resupply forces attacking the Islamic State at Raqqa, without having to march it hundreds of kilometers.