GCSP’s Global Risk and Resilience Cluster Leader, Dr Jean-Marc Rickli, recently discussed the Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) campaign to liberate the Syrian city of Raqqa in an interview with the Swedish Newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.
The interview took place roughly one week after Iraqi forces and their allies successfully completed the liberation of Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIS) on 9th July 2017 – a victory that required an astonishing nine months of battle on the ground. The victory in Mosul has shifted the world’s attention to the SDF’s operation to liberate Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the IS.
As the liberation of Mosul reached its concluding phases in June 2017, the operation to liberate Raqqa began. Dr Rickli, an expert on the Middle East, believes that the campaign to liberate Raqqa will also be extremely difficult but comparatively shorter than the operation to recapture Mosul – a city that is roughly four times the size of Raqqa.
He suspects that ISIS will lose control of Raqqa by the end of the year. However, he claims that the fall of Mosul and Raqqa will not indicate the end of the physical caliphate as the ideology will continue to exist.