ISIL preparing for siege in its capital
U.S. military officials are closely watching social media and news reports that say ISIS believes it may soon come under siege in Raqqa, Syria, its self-declared capital.The latter comment is significant because it implies the enemy movements are aiding the targeting of its fighting positions. The cover described in the piece would be inadequate against US missile strikes. It is not clear what forces are actually maneuvering for an attack on Raqqa. The only effective fighting force against ISIL within Syria has been the Kurdish forces.
"We have seen this declaration of emergency in Raqqa, whatever that means," Col. Steve Warren, the spokesman for the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition, told reporters Friday. "We know this enemy feels threatened, as they should."
Media reports have indicated that ISIS is moving personnel around the city and trying to put up covers in certain areas to shield potential targets from airstrikes and ground attacks.
"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.