According to a Pentagon official, Islamic State has declared a state of emergency in its capital city of Raqqa. Two rebel forces approaching from the east and west appear ready to besiege the city.
“They see the Syrian Democratic Forces, along with the Syrian Arab Coalition, maneuver both to their east and to their west,” Warren said. “Both of these areas becoming increasingly secure, and the Syrian Democratic Forces increasingly able to generate their own combat power in those areas.”
The coalition believes ISIS is now responding to those maneuvers.
“We’ve had reports of ISIL repositioning both their combat capabilities, I guess what they think may be coming next,” Warren said, using another name for ISIS. “And we’ve seen reports of them repositioning personnel … either within the city or even out of the city.”
U.S. military also note the movement of fighters who have been well dug in throughout Raqqa could give overhead surveillance aircraft an improved chance of finding and targeting them.
Is this really a major move by rebel forces to lay siege to the terrorist’s capital? Islamic State has yet to successfully defend a major city when a concerted effort has been made to dislodge them. They exact a fearful toll on attackers using suicide bombers and IEDs effectively, but as far as organizing a defense, they have yet to show they can hold their positions against determined attackers.
But the two forces maneuvering outside Raqqa are ill-trained, ill-organized rebel groups. They lack heavy weapons and probably lack the numbers for an effective siege.
Yet, they will have American air power to support their attack. So far, the Obama administration has shown extreme reluctance in attacking urban targets for fear of killing civilians. If the rebels are to lever the terrorists out of Raqqa, that is going to have to change.