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A man from Lancashire who encouraged Islamic extremists to wage jihad in the West, including targeting Prince George and injecting poison in to supermarket ice-cream, has been convicted today (31 May).
Husnain Rashid, 32, posted messages online glorifying successful terrorist atrocities committed by others while encouraging and inciting his readers to plan and commit attacks.
One of his posts included a photograph of Prince George, along with the address of his school, a black silhouette of a jihad fighter and the message ìeven the royal family will not be left aloneî.
His common theme was that attacks could be carried out by one individual acting alone. Rashid suggested perpetrators had the option of using poisons, vehicles, weapons, bombs, chemicals or knives. Rashid uploaded terrorist material to an online library he created with the goal of helping others plan an attack.
He also planned to travel to Turkey and Syria with the intention of fighting in Daesh-controlled territories. He contacted individuals he believed to be in Daesh territory, seeking advice on how to reach Syria and how to obtain the required authorisation necessary to join a fighting group.
Rashid provided one individual who had travelled to Syria and was known online as ìRepunzelî, with information about methods of shooting down aircraft and jamming missile systems.
All the offences relate to Rashidís activities online between October 2016 and his arrest in November 2017.
Rashidís trial started on 23 May at Woolwich Crown Court but he changed his plea to guilty on four counts on 31 May. He will be sentenced on 28 June.
Sue Hemming from the CPS said: ìHusnain Rashid is an extremist who not only sought to encourage others to commit attacks on targets in the West but was planning to travel aboard so he could fight himself.
ìHe tried to argue that he had not done anything illegal but with the overwhelming weight of evidence against him he changed his plea to guilty.
ìThe judge will now deci
Greater Manchester Police
A man from Lancashire who encouraged Islamic extremists to wage jihad in the West, including targeting Prince George and injecting poison in to supermarket ice-cream, has been convicted today (31 May). Husnain Rashid, 32, posted messages online glorifying successful terrorist atrocities committed by others while encouraging and inciting his readers to plan and commit attacks. One of his posts included a photograph of Prince George, along with the address of his school, a black silhouette of a jihad fighter and the message ìeven the royal family will not be left aloneî. His common theme was that attacks could be carried out by one individual acting alone. Rashid suggested perpetrators had the option of using poisons, vehicles, weapons, bombs, chemicals or knives. Rashid uploaded terrorist material to an online library he created with the goal of helping others plan an attack. He also planned to travel to Turkey and Syria with the intention of fighting in Daesh-controlled territories. He contacted individuals he believed to be in Daesh territory, seeking advice on how to reach Syria and how to obtain the required authorisation necessary to join a fighting group. Rashid provided one individual who had travelled to Syria and was known online as ìRepunzelî, with information about methods of shooting down aircraft and jamming missile systems. All the offences relate to Rashidís activities online between October 2016 and his arrest in November 2017. Rashidís trial started on 23 May at Woolwich Crown Court but he changed his plea to guilty on four counts on 31 May. He will be sentenced on 28 June. Sue Hemming from the CPS said: ìHusnain Rashid is an extremist who not only sought to encourage others to commit attacks on targets in the West but was planning to travel aboard so he could fight himself. ìHe tried to argue that he had not done anything illegal but with the overwhelming weight of evidence against him he changed his plea to guilty. ìThe judge will now deci
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FILE - In this undated file photo released by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, while riding in Raqqa, Syria. Simultaneous attacks on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa, the de facto IS capital across the border in eastern Syria, would make military sense: They would make it harder for the extremists to move reinforcements and deny them a safe haven. (Militant website via AP, File)
AP
FILE - In this undated file photo released by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, while riding in Raqqa, Syria. Simultaneous attacks on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa, the de facto IS capital across the border in eastern Syria, would make military sense: They would make it harder for the extremists to move reinforcements and deny them a safe haven. (Militant website via AP, File)
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(FILES) This image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows the leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim, adressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul. 
The Russian army on June 16, 2017 said it hit Islamic State leaders in an airstrike in Syria last month and was seeking to verify whether IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed. In a statement, the army said Sukhoi warplanes carried out a 10-minute night-time strike on May 28 at a location near Raqa, where IS leaders had gathered to plan a pullout by militants from the group's stronghold.
 / AFP PHOTO / AL-FURQAN MEDIA / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows the leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim, adressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The Russian army on June 16, 2017 said it hit Islamic State leaders in an airstrike in Syria last month and was seeking to verify whether IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed. In a statement, the army said Sukhoi warplanes carried out a 10-minute night-time strike on May 28 at a location near Raqa, where IS leaders had gathered to plan a pullout by militants from the group's stronghold. / AFP PHOTO / AL-FURQAN MEDIA / --/AFP/Getty Images
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Beirut, Lebanon CNN —  

ISIS has let some residents of its so-called capital flee to the surrounding countryside as a U.S.-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces pushes forward with an offensive to the north of Raqqa, one resident and an activist group tell CNN.

The battle Tuesday is meant to retake that area, Kurdish officials said, but is likely to stop short of attempting to retake the beleaguered city.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of armed militants backed by the U.S., and Kurdish groups announced the offensive on social media and through various announcements Tuesday.

The activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently tweeted late Tuesday that a clash was taking place in the northern outskirts of the ISIS stronghold.

“#Raqqa there was clashes today between #ISIS and #YPG with #SDF in Hesha village in Raqqa north Countryside,” the tweet read.

“This is the time you have been waiting for. It is time to leave Raqqa,” a report on the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently website says.

However, it appears the initial operation will be limited in scope.

Idriss Nassan, a spokesman for the Kurds in Kobani, said there had already been some clashes in the villages around Ain al Issa, 30 miles north of Raqqa, but he did not believe the offensive from the north and east was aimed at the city of Raqqa itself.

The U.S.-led coalition is providing assistance and advice to the Syrian Democratic Forces in the battle, coalition spokesman Col. Steve Warren said.

There are personnel providing “advice and assistance” but there are not forces on the front line, he said.

“We are in their off centers and headquarters providing advice,” he added, and not “exchanging fire” with ISIS.

State of emergency?

Earlier this month, U.S. officials confirmed that the jihadi group had declared a state of emergency in Raqqa as Kurdish and Syrian rebel troops consolidated gains around the city.

“We have seen this declaration of emergency in Raqqa, whatever that means,” Warren then told reporters. “We know this enemy feels threatened, as they should.”

Media reports indicated that ISIS was moving personnel around the city and was trying to put up covers in certain areas to shield potential targets from airstrikes and ground attacks.

ISIS internal docs show struggle to retain fighters, cut costs

Fall of a city

Earlier this year, two Syrian women took a hidden camera through the northern Syrian city to document their life under ISIS rule.

Since falling three years ago, Raqqa has fundamentally changed, with ISIS imposing hardline Islamic law in a city once considered Syria’s most liberal.

The war has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people nationwide and displaced more than 10 million, according to the United Nations.

Is ISIS broke?

Outside help

Russia is ready to coordinate efforts with the U.S.-led coalition and the Kurdish forces in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday. “I cannot say how real reports are that such actions have already begun, but we are ready for such coordination,” Lavrov said in Uzbekistan.

Warren said the coalition has “always been focused on evicting ISIS” from Raqqa. “We will continue to support the (Syrian Democratic Forces) as they conduct ground operations to further isolate the city.”

He added that the coalition will continue to provide air support in the battle against ISIS.

Twin offensive

Battles outside Raqqa coincide with an intense battle against ISIS in Falluja, Iraq.

Iraq’s military, part of the U.S. coalition, launched an offensive Monday to reclaim from ISIS the traditionally Sunni-dominated city about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

Tens of thousands of residents may be trapped in the city, the United Nations has said.

CNN’s Euan McKirdy contributed to this report