Today, the Syrian Armed Forces, backed by the paramilitary ‘Desert Hawks’, launched a prolonged, full-scale offensive to oust ISIS from its de-facto capital of al-Raqqa.
Thousands of the Syrian Army’s most experienced troops amassed at the town of Ithriya (in southern Aleppo) this morning. Photographs of the soldiers gathering at this town near the border of the Raqqa province reveal the scale of the operation; with soldiers, shown alongside armoured vehicles and heavy equipment, marching on towards the ISIS bastion.
On the 25th of May, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by US air-strikes, began a military operation to recapture large swathes of territory from ISIS in northern Raqqa. This offensive has since expanded, as the SDF crossed the Euphrates River in a bid to defeat the terrorist group in its heartland town of Manbij, nearly 70 km north-east of Aleppo.
The fanatical group also finds itself in trouble in neighbouring Iraq, where it is on the verge of losing its stronghold of Fallujah as the Iraqi army and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) are tightening their grip on the city, amid increasing fears that thousands of civilians have been taken hostage by ISIS there.