Expect an Ugly Rumble in Raqqa



2 min read  

By Peter Brookes  Jun 15th, 2017 

Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
Peter helps develop and communicate The Heritage Foundation's stance on foreign and defense policy through his research and writing.

You’re not hearing much about it in the news with so many other big stories out there today, but the battle for retaking Raqqa — the capital of the Islamic State caliphate in Syria — is reportedly well underway.

This fight has been some three years coming, since ISIS took the city in 2014 from the Syrian army. The assault comes none too soon for us and others, considering past and recent ISIS-related terrorist attacks at home and abroad.

Britain has had a horrendous period with ISIS-tied attacks in Manchester and London. Who can forget the ISIS-related violence against innocents in Paris or Orlando, among others over the last few years?

While reported progress in taking back the Syrian city seems to be going much better than one would expect considering the strategic importance of Raqqa to ISIS (it is, after all, its last remaining major territorial stronghold), its fighters could very well dig in.

Raqqa’s loss would also be a major blow to the terror group’s internal psyche and its external image.

The battle for Mosul in Iraq, the city where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the Islamic State caliphate in 2014, has been going on now since early last fall, stretching now into its eighth month.

The battle for Raqqa could easily take some time, too, in light of the years that ISIS has had to prepare the city for bloody, door-to-door urban warfare just like we’ve seen in Mosul since that fight began last October.


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