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Final assault on Daesh in Raqqa to 'start Sunday'

Final assault on Daesh in Raqqa to 'start Sunday'

Islamic State declared a caliphate in 2014 and at the height of its power ruled over millions of people, from northern Syria to the outskirts of Iraq's capital Baghdad, but it has since endured a series of losses under attack from many sides.

The Independent noted that the call to arms could have significant consequences in Western nations, where threats by Islamists have so far been almost entirely limited to the male population. The militants still have hundreds of fighters in the city, once their de facto capital.

US-backed fighters in northern Syria are preparing for a final offensive on neighborhoods still held by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Raqqa, a spokesman for the group said Monday.

Al-Mayadin is one of the last strongholds of Islamic State as it falls back upon the fertile area downstream of Deir al-Zor in the Euphrates valley and launches counter attacks in the central desert after losing swathes of territory this year.

The district had been flattened, with buildings completely gone.

The spokeswoman for the SDF campaign in Raqqa, Jihan Sheikh Ahmad, said in a statement on a website for the campaign that it would announce the liberation of Raqqa "in the coming few days". But the organization's increasingly desparate struggle as it loses ground in Iraq and Syria may have encouraged a more flexible attitude.

A newspaper run by the terror group called on Muslim women to "fulfil their duties on all fronts in supporting the mujahedeen in this battle" and "prepare themselves to defend their religion by sacrificing themselves by Allah", the British paper reported. However, it has been established that he is Yasser Iqbal, 39, a married lawyer from Birmingham who before moving to Syria had a successful immigration law practice.

Now it is hemmed into a small area in the city centre that includes the stadium, the National Hospital and a roundabout where Daesh once displayed the heads of its enemies.

Commanders directing the battle in Raqqa have said that Islamic State fighters have taken civilian hostages and are using sniper fire, booby traps and tunnels to slow the SDF advance.