Assad’s attack on Raqqah may actually be one of the best opportunities of this war.
Assad’s attack on Raqqah is merely driven by politics. Assad will not gain any military or logistic benefits from controlling Raqqah. In the past he withdrew his troops from this province by his own decision, because he thought that keeping that province would be a burden on him.
Assad has proved again and again that he is very ineffective in fighting the IS. The IS has defeated Assad so many times, and massacred his troops so many times.
Raqqah is said to be the capital of the IS. Can Assad really take that city from the IS? I find that hard to believe.
If the Kurds and Americans suspend their attack on Raqqah, that will leave Assad and the Russians alone in the face of the IS in its heartland. An attack by Assad and Russia will doubtless rally many supporters for the IS. Many people in Raqqah will prefer to support the IS over Assad.
I do not think Assad’s presence in Raqqah province will bring him any strategic benefits. That will be a new costly front added to the many fronts which he currently has. He is already overstretched. Adding a new distant front in Raqqah will stretch him more and will make it easier to defeat him in Aleppo.
So instead of racing with Assad towards Raqqah or Tabaqah, it would be better for the SDF to move quickly towards Aleppo.