"On August 24, ISIS launched a large counter-attack and recaptured the villages of al-Muqlah, al-Atshanah, Salem al-Hamad, al-Bu Hamad, Zor Shumr, al-Huwijah and Ghanem al-Ali in the southern Raqqa countryside. According to the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq, ISIS killed 42 Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers during the attack. 58 more SAA members were allegedly killed in a car bomb attack on a gathering of SAA soldiers near Ghanim al-Ali village. On August 25, clashes continued with the SAA and it sallies were attempting to regain momentum in the area." SF
IS is desperate to make a stand somewhere in the vast Raqqa/Homs/Hama Provinces area in which a combination of R+6 ground forces and R+6/US coalition air is cutting them to pieces and then crushing the pieces.
In the west of this set of cauldron battles, HTS Al-Qa'ida forces have tried in the last three days to break through across the Salamiya to Aleppo supply road to open an escape or reinforcement route to trapped IS forces south of the road. Politically this is a surprise because of the unusual character of this cooperation between the two jihadi groups, but, it seems that the need to confront the R+6 forces has overcome that inhibition in this case. In any event, the effort appears to have failed even as this IS pocket continues to shrink.
In the east of the set of ongoing battles, IS forces were massed yesterday for an attack along the Euphrates River to the NW through villages held by pro-government tribals in an economy of force role to free up heavy forces for other missions. These IS forces re-captured half a dozen small villages and killed around a hundred tribals and SAA soldiers.
Their success has IMO placed these IS fighters in an indefensible salient with the irrigated strip of the Euphrates Valley and the river itself to their north or right depending on how you want to express it. The SDF holds the ground to the north of the river. The ground south of the salient is held by the R+6.
Penetrations like this inevitably run out of steam unless reinforcements are stacked up behind them to be pushed forward as losses occur by attrition.
I expect that R+6 will re-position heavy mechanized forces and will attack to the river with maximum air support.
This should be a rewarding killing ground in which to send a lot of IS jihadis "home." pl