I would call this a major escalation in Syria and region. Good thing the Trump Circus is always distracting. So, no change in policy from Obama to Trump then? None, that I can see. Full steam ahead.
US-backed Syrian fighters and US special operations personnel, along with a cadre of Marines, have been deployed to the al Tabqa Dam, also known as the Euphrates Dam, located roughly 25 miles west of ISIS's self-proclaimed capital of al Raqqa.
The surprise deployment to the dam was said to have been largely made possible via US airlift capabilities and fire support. Although the number of troops involved in the operation remains unconfirmed, multiple reports put it around 500.
The dam provides electricity to the region, making it an especially high-value asset
A military airbase and a detention center holding prisoners of ISIS are also nearby. The airfield in particular could provide a valuable hub of operations for aircraft and command and control assets, not to mention a firebase, if it were to be secured by US-backed forces.A valuable hub for what operations? Operations against which party? Syria? Turkey? Iran?
|Top: The Euphrates Dam during construction in 1973. Bottom: Map showing relation of Euphrates Dam to al Raqqa.|
Here's where we get to the blocking of SAA and allies:
Blocking the western approaches to al Raqqa may block fleeing ISIS fighters, but it also could work to block Syrian, Russian and Hezbollah troops from approaching the Islamic State stronghold. The US has executed a similar strategy to the north in Manbij, a move that has resulted in US and Russian troops staring each other down at a distance, while Turkey has said a military operation to route Kurdish fighters from the city is on the table. To call the town that is held by US and Syrian Democratic Forces—which are made up primarily of Kurdish fighters—a potential international flashpoint would be an understatement.The US did not make this move now to block fleeing ISIS fighters from Raqqa- ISIS fighters, so called, have been fleeing Raqqa for weeks now!
Here's a report from March 08/2017: British YPG member says ISIS leadership fleeing Raqqa, Turkey excluded from the operation
"A British volunteer with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) told ARA News that the Islamic State (ISIS) radical group is already relocating its leadership away from Raqqa city, in northeastern Syria.
Rojhat confirmed that ISIS is already fleeing Raqqa city.
“Absolutely, there are reports already coming out from Raqqa that they have relocated their leadership away from the city, so they know it will fall,” he said"Pretty darn convenient, no? ISIS is fleeing Raqqa, weeks ahead of a surprise US move on Raqqa-- Obviously the move on Raqqa has nothing to do with ISIS and everything to do with annexing Syrian territory in the remake the region agenda, while blocking SAA and allies.
NYT's ISIS Leaders Fleeing Raqqa- Two weeks ago
As Syrian fighters backed by the United States close in on Raqqa, some of the Islamic State’s leaders have fled their self-declared capitalIn case you doubted that ISIS had been leaving Raqqa weeks ago.
Clearly the US made this move to block SAA and allies-
Flashback: All of a sudden the appearance of the Shadowy Unmarked S-92 SuperHawk Reemerges in Middle East Hot Spot makes a whole lot of sense
A gray, unmarked S-92 Superhawk with military modifications, including what appears to be elaborate communications and self defensive suites, as well as a rescue hoist among other add-ons, was spotted last week in the northern Syrian border town of Kobani.DoD:
WASHINGTON, March 22, 2017 — Local forces in Syria launched a multi-pronged offensive that included a daring air assault behind enemy lines to liberate Tabqa Dam, located 25 miles upstream from the city of Raqqa, the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve public affairs officer said today.
Army Col. Joseph E. Scrocca conducted a teleconference live from Baghdad with the Pentagon press corps to detail the operation
“Seizing Tabqa dam will isolate Raqqa from three sides and give the SDF a strategic advantage and the launching point they need to liberate the city,” he said.He means ethnically cleanse the city of it’s Arab population.. Appropriation of Syrian territory and infrasctructure for PKK/YPG
U.S. Airlifts Hundreds of Militia Fighters in Attack to Cut Off Raqqa
Hundreds of Syrian fighters and their American advisers were airlifted by United States helicopters across enemy lines on Tuesday and Wednesday in a bold operationNYT's
In a significant commitment of American forces, Marine Corps howitzers and Army Apache attack helicopters provided firepower for the operation. Army surface-to-surface Himars rockets, based in northern Syria, may be used. American Special Operations forces are advising the Syrian fighters on the ground
Hundreds of Syrian fighters and their American advisers were airlifted by United States helicopters across enemy lines on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In a significant commitment of American forces, Marine Corps howitzers and Army Apache attack helicopters provided firepower for the operation. Army surface-to-surface Himars rockets, based in northern Syria, may be used. American Special Operations forces are advising the Syrian fighters on the ground, although a military spokesman asserted that they are not in direct, front-line combat.
The hope is to take the dam intact.Rather then cover the involvement of US troops, in this obvious escalation, the media insists on covering the 'attack' on the UK parliament, that doesn't appear to have been an attack on the parliament or any parliamentarian. And then there is always the Trump circus- sigh.. while rolling eyes