BEIRUT (Sputnik) – Assad maintained that the danger of terrorists groups like Daesh "is not about what land they occupy…It’s about how much of their ideology can they instill in the mind of the people in the area that they sit or live in."
"Reaching Raqqa is not that difficult militarily, let’s say. It’s a matter of time. We are going in that direction," Assad told SBS in an interview as quoted by SANA on Friday.
At the same time, the Syrian Democratic Forces, which mostly consists of Kurdish militia, are conducting an operation in Manbij. Manbij, located between Daesh's de facto capital of Raqqa and the Syrian-Turkish border, is a strategically important area for the terrorist group.
The Syrian government has had no presence in Raqqa since August 2014. Liberating the city, where some believe Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is living, has long been seen as key to crippling the terrorist organization.