Isis jihadist holed up in Raqqa is British barrister

Isis jihadist holed up in Raqqa is British barrister

Mayadeen in the oil-rich eastern province of Deir Ezzor is seen as the jihadist group's "security and military capital" in Syria, and its loss would deal "a severe blow" to the jihadists, according to a Syrian military source.

In the hours before the expected launch of the final assault, which the commander said could take up to a week, the sound of gunfire sporadically rattled around the area near the hospital.

"The Syrian Democratic Forces are reinforcing positions ahead of the final attack on the city of Raqqa", Bali said by telephone on Monday, speaking from northern Syria. Counter-radicalisation efforts to prevent the exodus of disaffected young Britons has focused on the young and marginalised who were seen as most at risk from the influence of extremists.

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". The militants still have hundreds of fighters in the city, once their de facto capital.

Daesh has lost swathes of territory to the SDF and to a rival offensive by Syria's army and allied forces this year, and has fallen back on the fertile Euphrates valley area downstream of Raqqa.

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On Sunday a Syrian military source said they had encircled Islamic State fighters in the city of al-Mayadin, one of the jihadists' last strongholds in the area.

Syrian regime forces on Friday broke into the eastern town of Mayadeen, one of the Islamic State's last bastions in Syria, backed by Russian air raids taking a deadly toll on civilians.

IS is infamous for its oppression and subjugation of women under its rule, and has traditionally entrusted females only with homemaking roles.

IS remains in control of half of Deir Ezzor province, despite advances by President Bashar Assad's forces and a separate offensive against the jihadists by the Kurdish-Arab alliance.

Its attack on the city itself started in June and the fighting left much of Raqqa in ruins, as intense air strikes and street-to-street battles devastated buildings.