Executive Summary for June 5th

We review key developments in Syria, including a new push by the SDF toward Raqqa, ISIS militants losing ground in Aleppo province and government forces carrying out a series of attacks against rebel positions in Daraa city.

Published on June 5, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

SDF Captures Third Euphrates Dam

A U.S.-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters captured a hydroelectric facility from the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) on Sunday and have now secured all three major dams along the Euphrates river, Reuters reported.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, which have been advancing on the ISIS stronghold in Raqqa since November, said they captured the Baath Dam, which lies 14 miles (22km) upstream of the militants’ former de-facto capital.

The latest push comes one day after a spokesman for the Kurdish YPG militia, a key component of the SDF, said that a major operation on Raqqa will start in the next “few days.”

On Friday, the SDF captured al-Mansoura, the largest town in the western Raqqa countryside, from ISIS, Reuters reported.

Last month, the SDF seized Syria’s largest dam from ISIS militants, after weeks of fighting in the Tabqa area, west of Raqqa city.

ISIS Loses Last Aleppo Stronghold

ISIS lost its last foothold in Aleppo province Sunday, following advances by Syrian troops and allied forces, Reuters reported, citing Syrian TV and an independent monitor.

Pro-government forces pushed ISIS militants out of Maskaneh, which lies on the western banks of the Euphrates river in Aleppo province, after weeks of fighting in and around the town according to the United Kingdom-based monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

The advance has reduced the presence of ISIS militants in Aleppo to desert areas in the southeast corner of the province.

The latest push has also brought Syrian troops and affiliated militias to within 6 miles (10km) of Raqqa’s provincial border, which is mostly controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters battling ISIS.

Government Forces Pound Daraa After Rebel Assault

Syrian government forces battling insurgents in Daraa carried out a series of airstrikes and artillery attacks on the southern city on Sunday, the Associated Press reported.

A local opposition activist said that government forces had launched at least 90 missile and bomb strikes by Sunday afternoon.

SOHR said government forces launched at least 80 missiles, dropped at least 37 barrel bombs and carried out at least 13 airstrikes on rebel positions in the southern city on Sunday, as intense clashes with insurgents, including al-Qaida-led rebels, continued in the city’s Manshiyeh neighborhood.

The government’s latest attack on Daraa city comes one day after insurgent groups attacked government positions in the Manshiyeh district.

Clashes between pro-government forces and opposition groups in the area over the weekend killed 15 rebels and 16 pro-government fighters, including seven members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, according to the monitoring group.

Parts of Daraa were declared a safe zone following the Astana peace talks earlier this month. Although violence has been reported in the safe zones since the Astana agreement, the clashes in Daraa are believed to be among the worst so far.

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