It would appear that the US backed and trained forces like the Kurdish Peshmerga and some Christian forces are preparing an assault on the Islamic State self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa. Reuters reported that The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) "had launched an operation to capture Raqqa, Islamic State's de facto Syrian capital, piling pressure on the jihadists whose self-declared caliphate is in retreat across Syria and Iraq." The battle, as with Mosul in Iraq, has been in the offing for a while now and has been slowly heading for Raqqa as Islamic State forces fall back.

It is widely assumed that IS leader Baghdadi and other senior figures in the ranks of the Jihadi group will have fled the city and gone into hiding. The city has been bombed mercilessly by allied air power hitting IS targets but unfortunately, many civilian casualties have also succumbed to the bombing too.

Islamic State will be preparing a welcoming committee for the forces ranged against them, like suicide bombers, car bombs, truck bombs, IEDs, and all manner of ambushes. The fighting, as in Mosul, is still not completely under Iraqi government control and it will be ruthless, determined, street to street and house by house.

Mosul and other towns and cities under IS control may have been important and IS would not have wanted to lose them but we are talking about the capital of the caliphate here.

IS will not want to give up their capital and will offer no doubt the hardest and most fanatical defence of it. Civilians have been leaving the city in their droves.

It is understandable civilians would want to leave before the assault begins as they do not wish to die in the fighting or be used as human shields. Meanwhile, the forces surrounding Raqqa will have preparations in place to accommodate this influx of scared, tired and hungry people as they did around Mosul.

A history of the Islamic State

Islamic State grew out of Al-Qaeda in Iraq when there was a disagreement between Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Qaeda's offshoot in Iraq had been doing things that even Al-Qaeda did not agree with, so the offshoot broke from the main body and called itself many names before settling on Islamic State.

After this, the Islamic State set off on a war of conquest and as the Iraqi forces and others fell back before them they captured American equipment. After the northern Syrian city of Raqqa fell, their leader Baghdadi stood atop a famous mosque and proclaimed a caliphate. He asked all Sunni Muslims to join him in this paradise and to widen its borders and fight the infidel.

Many people flocked to this so-called paradise from various parts of the world and they did conquer and widen the caliphates borders. Islamic State functioned like a state and at one point it was estimated 10 million people lived under its rule.

But its rule, if you were a Shia Muslim or a Sunni Muslim that did not agree with their interpretation of Sharia law, was brutal.

For Yazidis and Christians, Islamic State's rule was brutal, In some cases, it was genocidal, particularly for the Yazidis who the Islamic State thought were Satanists.

Islamic States similarity to the Japanese forces of World War II

Looking back historically, there are many similarities between the Imperial Japanese forces of World War II and Islamic State now. Both launched a war of conquest and for six months or more both were successful in their conquests.

However both the Japanese back then and IS now soon began to fight a war of defence against a much stronger enemy who had resources and time on their side. Back then in the Pacific, the Japanese fought to hold onto their territory they had captured as IS do now.

Nevertheless, the war turned against the Japanese back then as it has with IS now.

The Japanese were fanatical fighters and did unspeakable crimes against humanity just like the Islamic State is doing.

They say history sometimes repeats itself so maybe the comparison between Imperial Japan and today's Islamic State is a reasonable parallel.