"I hope that isolation will be completed by the spring and then operations to liberate Raqqa itself can begin thereafter," Michael Fallon told reporters during a visit to Baghdad, as quoted by the Sky News network.
Fallon reportedly said he had discussed progress in the fight against the Islamic State (Daesh) terror group in Syria with commanders of the 65-nation US-led coalition. He said militants from the Syrian Democratic Forces were prepared to advance on Raqqa from the west and from the north.
The British defense chief also praised the British air force for striking at Daesh positions in and around its other stronghold of Mosul in northern Iraq. He said he was delighted to see the east of Mosul free from Daesh fighters and predicted the entire city would be liberated this year.