PARIS, March 24 (Xinhua) -- French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Friday that an international military offensive to retake Syrian city of Raqqa from the IS is likely to start "in the coming days."
"Today, one can say that Raqqa is encircled, that the battle for Raqqa will start in the coming days," Le Drian told local Cnews television, adding that liberating Raqqa was France's "major objective."
"It will be a very hard battle, but a battle that is going to be of utmost importance because once the (Islamic State's) two strongholds are taken over by Iraqi forces on one side and by the Arab-Kurdish forces on the other, Daesh will really have difficulties existing," he added.
Noting it is necessary to "continue applying pressure" on Islamic insurgents in Syria and Iraq, Le Drian said he would meet his American counterpart over the next few days in Washington to discuss the development of the U.S.-led coalition operation in the region.
Speaking on the offensive in Iraq, French minister stressed, "Daesh will lose."
"The combined action of the Iraqi forces and the coalition of which France is participating, will gradually lead to the Mosul's reconquest," he added.
Mosul, 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.