Syrian rebels closing in on Islamic State’s stronghold in Raqqa


Major General Rupert Jones also said the US-led coalition is stopping IS fighters moving around Mosul – their last stronghold in Iraq.

And he suggested that IS is beginning to run low on ammunition.

Mosul has been under siege from coalition air power and Iraqi and Kurdish forces for six weeks.

There are growing signs of paranoia among IS, also known as Daesh, which has ordered its members to stop using internet-based communication apps.

It fears they are being tracked by the coalition which has killed 20 IS commanders already this year.

General Jones, the deputy commander of the US-led Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, said: “The Syrian Democratic Forces have recaptured well over 700 square kilometres (270 square miles) of terrain from Daesh and now continue planning the next phase of isolation of Raqqa.

“They’re now less than 30 kilometres from the city and have encountered light to moderate resistance as they continue clearing villages.”

He said that in Mosul the coalition has “disabled” four of the five bridges across the Tigris.

General Jones said: “We expect tough fighting to continue in the weeks ahead. It’s going to take time and a lot of tough fighting but we’re confident of Daesh’s defeat in Mosul.”