With Syrian, Kurdish SDF and US forces each inching closer to Raqqa by the day, the much anticipated ‘Battle of Raqqa’ may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory.
ISIS has occupied the Syrian city of Raqqa since 2013 and since then, the city has functioned as the self-proclaimed capital of the so-called Islamic State.
Now though, according to unnamed US defence sources cited by Fox News, Raqqa is rapidly being abandoned by not only ISIS commanders but also by ISIS ‘civil servants’.
According to Fox’s sources, ISIS is moving much of its regional operations into the Deir ez-Zor Governorate which has seen extremely tense fighting for the last year.
Deir-ez-Zor was the location of a recent US bombing of alleged ISIS targets that ended up hitting a terrorist controlled chemical weapons depot. The subsequent blast of chemical materials has killed hundreds according to Syria.
The protracted siege of Raqqa that has yet to manifest itself as a fully fledged battle may end up being an illusory goal.
For Syria, the most important aim is to take control of major urban areas in the west of the country, as well as sealing off the Syrian borders, particularly the border with Turkey, in order to prevent the inflow of more terrorists and also regular Turkish forces.
Although Raqqa still holds symbolic value for which ever fighting force eventually captures it, with Syria continuing to win battles against terrorist groups in Idlib, Hama, Aleppo and around Damascus; it may be Deir-ez-Zor where the ultimate battle to liberate Syria from terrorism is won.