|Ithriyah-Raqqa offensive (February–March 2016)|
|Part of the Syrian Civil War|
Map of the course of the offensive (also included the concurrent ISIL-led Khanasir offensive). Red dotted line denotes the Syrian Government frontline prior to offensive.
Syrian Army control Opposition control (including al-Qaeda in the Levant) Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Ongoing confrontation or unclear situation
| Syrian Arab Republic||Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant|
| Syrian Army
National Defence Forces
|Military of ISIL|
The Ithriyah-Raqqa offensive (February–March 2016) was a military operation conducted by the Syrian Arab Army against ISIL, during the Syrian Civil War, with the aim of reaching the ISIL-held Al-Tabqa Military Airport.
On the morning of 11 February 2016, the Syrian Arab Army’s 555th Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division, along with the National Defense Forces (NDF), Liwaa Suqour Al-Sahra (Desert Hawks Brigade), Kataebat Al-Ba’ath (Al-Ba’ath Battalions), and Fouj Al-Joulan (Golani Regiment), launched an offensive eastward to recapture the Ithriyah-Raqqa Road that leads to the Tabqa Military Airport. They began their assault by storming Hill 5 along the Ithriyah-Raqqa Road, and after nearly 3 hours of fierce battle with ISIS, they were able to establish full control over three points in the eastern Hama desert: Hill 5, Tal Abu Zayn and a water well at the village of Tal Zakiyah. At this point, the Syrian Army was 45 kilometers from the Al-Tabqa air base.
The next day, Syrian government forces advanced from Tal Abu Zayn, capturing Tal Madakhah hill. They had also reached Tal Zakiyah in the afternoon, thus entering the southern Raqqa countryside, and coming within 35 kilometers of the airbase. Meanwhile, west of Ithriyah, the military seized two villages along the Ithriya-Salamiyah Road, near Sheikh Hilal. On 13 February, government troops seized the Zakiyah crossroad, in southern Raqqa, while also further advancing in the Sheikh Hilal area.
On 14 February, the Syrian Army seized Tal Masbah hill, 15 kilometers east of Ithriyah. ISIS fighters retreated towards the desert village of Jubb Al-Qutna. On 15 February, several hills around Zakiyah were also captured.
On 17 February, the Army approached Marina, positioning themselves five kilometers west of the village, while fighting continued at Zakiyah. The next day, after an 8-hour battle that started in the early morning hours, government troops captured Tal Al-‘Alam hill, four kilometers from Marina.
On the evening of 21 February, ISIL launched two offensives with the aim of cutting the government's supply line that runs through Ithriyah. One of these was a large assault against the road running from Ithriyah towards Aleppo city, to the north, more specifically against the Khanasir-Aleppo Road. During this operation, ISIL cut the road for seven days and captured the strategic town of Khanasir, before the Army managed to retake all areas they had lost along the highway. The second attack was aimed at the Sheikh Hilal-Ithriyah Road, west of Ithriyah, which was also cut. By 28 February, all points lost were recaptured by the military in the Sheikh Hilal area, except the Al-‘Azeeb Checkpoint. The simultaneous ISIL assault on the two roads had left Syrian Army units along the Salamiyah-Raqqa Highway trapped during this time. Later on the same day, the Syrian Army captured the last point on the Sheikh Hilal-Ithriya Road that was held by ISIL, thus reopening the supply route.
On 3 March, the Syrian Army recaptured all points they had to abandon at the Zakiyah crossroad days earlier, due to the cutting of the supply route. Two days later, ISIL once again cut the Sheikh Hilal-Ithriyah Road, killing 15–20 soldiers, before the military repelled the attack and re-secured the road. Following this, the Syrian Army shifted their focus from the Al-Tabqa Military Airport to the Jirah Military Airport and Deir Hafir, further north in Aleppo Province. This came in the aftermath of the failed ISIL offensive at Khanasir, during which government forces captured 13 villages previously held by ISIL.
On 2 June, the military announced the start of a new offensive from Ithriyah, with the aim of liberating Raqqa city.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Leith Fadel (3 March 2016). "Syrian Army reaches Al-Raqqa border after regaining offensive initiative". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-reaches-al-raqqa-border-regaining-initiative/.
- ↑ Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (2 April 2017). "Quwat Muqatili al-Asha'ir: Tribal Auxiliary Forces of the Military Intelligence". http://www.aymennjawad.org/19789/quwat-muqatili-al-ashair-tribal-auxiliary-forces. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (11 February 2016). "Syrian Army begins large-scale military operation to retake Tabaqa Airport". Al-Masdar News. http://www.almasdarnews.com/article/28141/. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (11 February 2016). "Syrian Army continues to advance towards Raqqa: Tal Madakhah captured". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-continues-to-advance-towards-raqqa-tal-madakhah-captured/. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Leith Fadel (13 February 2016). "Syrian Army reaches important crossroad in southern Raqqa". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-reaches-important-crossroad-in-southern-raqqa/. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (12 February 2016). "Syrian Army enters the Al-Raqqa Governorate". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-enters-al-raqqa-governorate/. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
- ↑ "Syrian army intends move into ISIS stronghold of Raqqa province: source". The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon. https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2016/Feb-13/337141-syrian-army-intends-to-advance-into-isis-stronghold-of-raqqa-province-after-capturing-positions.ashx. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (12 February 2016). "Syrian Army captures two villages in east Hama". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-captures-two-villages-in-east-hama/. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
- ↑ yaman2020. "قوات النظام تتقدم باتجاه الحدود الإدارية مع الرقة وتسيطر على قرى بريف حماة". المرصد السورى لحقوق الإنسان. http://www.syriahr.com/?p=155539. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
- ↑ jack. "After the death of more than 140 soldiers, Regime forces advance around Shekh Hilal". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. http://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=44101. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (14 February 2016). "Syrian Army advances towards Tabaqa Military Airport: Tal Masbah captured". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-advances-towards-tabaqa-military-airport-tal-masbah-captured/. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (14 February 2016). "ISIS continues massive retreat as Syrian forces advance towards Tabaqa". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/isis-continues-massive-retreat-as-syrian-forces-advance-towards-tabaqa/. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (17 February 2016). "Syrian Armed Forces approach strategic village in Al-Raqqa countryside". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-armed-forces-approach-strategic-village-in-al-raqqa-countryside/. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (19 February 2016). "Syrian Armed Forces capture strategic hill in Al-Raqqa countryside". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-armed-forces-capture-strategic-hill-in-al-raqqa-countryside/. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (20 February 2016). "Syrian Armed Forces capture another point on the road to Tabaqa". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-armed-forces-capture-another-point-on-the-road-to-tabaqa/. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (20 February 2016). "Syrian Army captures Al-Massabah village as ISIS retreats in the Al-Raqqa countryside". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-captures-al-massabah-village-as-isis-retreats-in-the-al-raqqa-countryside/. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (28 February 2016). "Important government supply route to Aleppo remains cutoff by ISIS". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/important-government-supply-route-to-aleppo-remains-cutoff-by-isis/. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (23 February 2016). "ISIS cuts two different government supply routes". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/isis-cuts-two-different-government-supply-routes/. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (28 February 2016). "Syrian Army reopens vital supply route to Aleppo after routing ISIS". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-reopens-vital-supply-route-to-aleppo-after-routing-isis/. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
- ↑ ABC News. "ABC News". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/syria-rebels-border-crossing-37420245.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (10 March 2016). "ISIS abandons hope in east Aleppo as the Syrian Army captures 3 more villages". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/isis-abandons-hope-east-aleppo-syrian-army-captures-3-villages/.
- ↑ Leith Fadel (10 March 2016). "Syrian Army liberates 3 more villages from ISIS in southeast Aleppo". Al-Masdar News. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-liberates-3-villages-isis-southeast-aleppo/.
- ↑ "Syrian Army begins new offensive to liberate Raqqa". Al-Masdar news. 2 June 2016. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/breaking-saa-begins-military-operation-recapture-isis-held-raqqa/.
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