The IS militant group has been cornered into a pocket of territory near the Syrian city center where it once staged beheadings and crucifixions. US-backed forces said the fight for the stronghold is nearly over.
In June, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, began its offensive by surrounding the city and launching a multi-pronged assault with the help of aerial support from the US-led coalition battling the militant group.
In Raqqa, considered the militant group's de facto capital at the height of its power, the "Islamic State" has been pushed into a pocket of territory near the city center, where it once staged public beheadings and crucifixions.
"Daesh is massing there because this is the last stage. They will resist, or they will surrender or die," said SDF Commander Ardal Raqqa. "This is their last stand to the death."
However, Rojda Felat, who heads the "Wrath of the Euphrates" campaign to liberate Raqqa, said there was still fierce fighting along the front line, with the "Islamic State" using suicide bombers and snipers to keep SDF forces at bay.
An uncertain future
The "Islamic State" rose to notoriety in 2014, when it seized parts of Iraq and Syria culminating in the occupation of Mosul. In June of that year, the militant group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the establishment of a global caliphate from a historic mosque in Mosul.
The militant group took advantage of the Syrian civil war to expand its power in the country, but has since seen its territories dwindle over the past year after Iraqi-led forces recaptured Mosul. However, European authorities have warned of potential fallout with battle-hardened foreign fighters wishing to return to the continent.