Attack on Raqqa to ruin defence
KURDISH troops (pictured) backed by Arab forces and the US have begun an operation to recapture the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State. The attack cranks up pressure on the group at a critical moment with its fighters already battling an assault on their Iraqi stronghold of Mosul. The aim is to weaken IS's ability to defend both cities, particularly since they symbolise the impact and presence of the self- declared caliphate. The attack on Raqqa will involve 30,000 fighters. Residents have been urged to leave and to avoid areas where there are militants.