Massive ISIS Counterattack Rolls Back Major SDF Gains
DEIR EZ-ZOR GOVERNORATE (OCTOBER 28, 2018) – Islamic State (IS) reset all Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) footholds in the Hajin pocket over the past week, shifting the frontlines to around the times they were in September.
IS militants began the larger-phased counterattack upon the arrival of 3 waves of desert-sourced sandstorms earlier this week. In the Hajin pocket, IS was able to lift the siege on Al-Marshada and recaptured several areas on the outskirts of As-Sousah after SDF captured the town earlier. The sandstorm was vital in allowing IS to conduct this attack and regain ground lost to the SDF in 3 days within just hours. Sandstorms allow for the blurred and unclear skies which would then halt coalition airstrikes, and prompt an ideal context to attack the SDF & allies.
IS afterwards recaptured the towns of Susah, Safafinah, Shajilah, and Baghuz Fawqani completely. SDF reportedly retreated from the town of Baghuz Tahtani. IS fighters are approaching the town. Iraqi Central Command placed its forces on highest alert along the Syria-Iraq border in the Anbar province of Iraq, as it is expected that IS will clash with Iraqi forces in the near future.
All the while, IS resources and munition are evidently depleting while SDF still has the upper hand. More developments continue to unfold in the pocket.