SDF starts offensive in southern Hasakah province
As of today, the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), a coalition of northern groups including the kurdish YPG, rebel groups Jaysh al Thuwwar and other local groups and tribes, has started an offensive in southern Hasakah province.
After capturing Qashqash yesterday, the US-backed groups has taken control of the village of Shamsani, located just southeast of the location captured yesterday. These are just two of many villages situated on the riverbed of the Euphrates river, which connects the cities of Hasakah and Deir Ez-Zor. This is where the main goal is gonna be: secure the heights and hills on the eastern side of the riverbed and control the M7 highway and the river connecting the two cities. This will enable them to open a way to reach Deir Ez Zor if they are willing to go so far. This however could also be a distraction move to spread IS defenses, as the long awaited Raqqa offensive is looming around the corner, with an announcement made today by the SDF spokesman saying that the offensive will start soon.
The SDF are currently about 130km away from the outskirts of Deir Ez Zor city. As mentioned before, the riverbed and the highway are crucial to controlling the largely desert and lightly montaineous areas northeast of Deir Ez Zor. Holding and capturing strategic towns and hills around the riverbed will enable the SDF to get the upper hand over ISIS and give them the possibility to eventually reach the besieged city. It is however unclear for now, how far the SDF is gonna go on this front.