All the forces fighting against ISIS along the bank of the Euphrates in Syria have achieved major successes against the terrorist group. The three main groups that have pushed ISIS away from the banks of the river are the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Syrian regime’s forces, and the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The SDF now controls the eastern bank of the Euphrates, concentrated in the countryside of Deir ez-Zour. Their presence is limited on the western bank, where the Syrian regime’s armed forces control an estimated distance of 40 kilometres in the eastern countryside of Aleppo. The SDF have nevertheless taken over three dams along the Euphrates east of Aleppo and west of Raqqa. They are currently laying siege to Raqqa and are penetrating the city from three sides, making significant gains, capturing swathes of territory previously held by ISIS.
The FSA are in control of the smallest area: not much more than 20 kilometres from the west bank of the Euphrates, again in the eastern countryside of Aleppo.
Bridges along the Euphrates are playing an important role in the battle between ISIS, the SDF, rebel forces, and the regime’s army. They provide access to territory and paths through which arms and resources may be transported. ISIS blew up two bridges along the river in the eastern countryside of Aleppo in its initial clashes with the SDF. In the Raqqa and Deir ez-Zour provinces, the international coalition detonated all the bridges along the Euphrates, thus cutting off many of the access points used by ISIS.
The focus along the Euphrates is currently on Raqqa as the SDF launched the final stage of “Operation Wrath of Euphrates” on 6 June. There have been reports that ISIS militants are forcing civilians to fight against the SDF as the terrorist group finds itself in a desperate situation.