Tactical Talk – (Update) On a narrow dirt road in the village of Sijar, a column of green Toyota pick-up trucks carrying Shia paramilitaries and rocket launchers jostled into space with the Humvees of the Iraqi police. A platoon of exhausted snipers stood at the side of the road waving their guns in the air and taking selfies. A truck carrying a flag-draped coffin attempted to push through.
What was, until late last month, a quiet stretch of track twisting between fields and palm groves in territory held by Islamic State is now one of Iraq’s busiest military arteries, ferrying men and equipment to the frontline of the battle for Falluja.
US Central Command is holding off on official confirmation for now, but accounts on the ground appear to have confirmed the inevitable: ISIS has been routed from its de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria. The defeat means that ISIS, which once had grand plans for an expanding caliphate, no longer controls a single major city anywhere, reports Reuters. Its account sees the Raqqa development as “a potent symbol of the jihadist movement’s collapsing fortunes,” noting that the last ISIS flag flying over the city was taken down Tuesday by members of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.