DAMASCUS (Worthy News)– After the Islamic State has seized control of the Syrian Air Force base at Tabqa, the Raqqa province is the first to full fall out of government hands as it seeks to establish a capital for its caliphate.
"Some of the Syrian regime troops pulled out, and now the Islamic State is in full control of Tabqa," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Aug. 24. "This makes Raqqa province the first to fully fall out of government hands."
Syrian Observatory said more than 500 people were killed in the battle for Tabqa, many of them in a heavy exchange of mortar and rocket fire. The British-based monitoring group said about two-thirds of the casualties were from ISIL.
The regime of President Bashar Assad confirmed the ISIL capture of Tabqa. The official Syrian news agency, Sana, said the military withdrew from the base while maintaining attacks on ISIL. — Source
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Syria Deeply: Why is Taqba important to ISIS?
Lamrani (analyst for Stratfor): Taking the base is important to ISIS on multiple levels. The city itself is the capital of their caliphate, where their headquarters are, and where a lot of the ISIS leadership is moving now, because they are escaping to Iraq. The leadership has been transitioning to Raqqa from Iraq even though their fighters remain in Iraq. They took [the Raqqa-based regime powerhouses] Division 17, then Brigade 93, and have really cleared out areas to the north of the city. They would feel even more secure with the air base, because it would give them a lot of space between their positions in Raqqa and that controlled by their enemies. That's why they continue to mount these campaigns against it.
ISIS really takes advantage of seizing regime positions by capturing equipment and then using it in future battles. In Hassakeh, when they took an artillery position, they captured multiple rocket launchers and then used them in the fight against Brigade 93. ISIS doesn't have a strategic supply of weapons, not from the US or the Gulf Cooperation Council or Iran or Russia, unlike the regime and opposition groups. Most equipment they have to purchase from regional black markets, or steal themselves.