Islamic State on the run?

The Kurdish YPG forces captured a strategic military base from the IS (Brigade 93) and are advancing towards the town of Ain Issa, about 30 miles from the IS de facto capital in al-Raqqa. The IS are redeploying significant resources to defend their capital.

The YPG managed to capitalise on their capture of Tal Abyad town earlier this month by capturing the strategic IS base (from Brigade 93) and advancing towards the town of Ain Issa, which is only 30 miles away from the IS capital in Raqqah.

The town is witnessing fierce street battles between the IS and the YPG forces, supported by precision air strikes by the US led coalition. The Kurdish YPG forces have been bolstered by at least 4,000 fighters who recently returned from Iraqi Kurdish region (KRG) after being trained by Kurdish Peshmerga as well as American and European military instructors.

The sophisticated training and military equipment as well as the effective air/ground coordination between the YPG forces and the US led coalition are the main factors behind the recent successes of YPG against the IS forces. The air strikes are preventing the IS forces from concentrating their strength to counter the YPG advances towards Ain Issa.

The YPG advance along with the possible capture of Ain Issa, will undoubtedly be the second serious strategic setback to the IS. However 5 Dimensions do not believe that al-Raqqa will be easily captured by the YPG as the city of one million inhabitants. This is too large for the current YPG forces to capture and it is well defended by the IS forces.

Nevertheless the fact that YPG forces, are now only 30 miles away from the IS capital in Raqqa is a huge achievement in itself. This time last year they were defending the remaining half of their last city in that Province (Kobane) against the IS onslaught; their advance against the IS since then has been considerable.

If the YPG succeed in capturing Ain Issa and approaching the outskirts of Raqqa, this development will have a great impact on the IS prestige and image of invincibility, as well as the recruitment efforts not just locally in Syria and Iraq but globally.

5 Dimensions stress that the battle is far from over and the IS could mount a ferocious counter attack against the YPG forces and regain lost territories. They believe the next 15 days are crucial in terms of IS ability to reverse the YPG momentum.

This latest update is from 5 Dimension Consultants based in Dubai.