PARIS A battle against Islamic State to recapture the Syrian city of Raqqa is likely to start in the coming days, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday.
"France has always said that Raqqa was a major objective," Le Drian told CNews television station. "Today, one can say that Raqqa is encircled, that the battle for Raqqa will start in the coming days."
"It will be a very hard battle, but a battle that is going to be of utmost importance," he added.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Pentagon department had said that the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State had for the first time airdropped local ground forces behind enemy lines near the ISIS-held town of Tabqa in northern Syria, opening up a new front in the campaign to recapture Raqqa.
(Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Ingrid Melander)