The United Nations envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, on Friday said that Raqqa, one of the Islamic State group’s last strongholds in the country, will fall by October and pave the way for a fair election. He said this was the beginning of the end of the Syrian war, and that “we need to make sure this becomes the beginning of peace,” Reuters reported, citing a radio interview.

Raqqa, Deir al-Zor and Idlib are three places that are still under Islamic State control and have to be liberated, according to the UN envoy. “After Raqqa and Deir al-Zor...there will be a moment of truth,” Mistura said.

He also believes that a credible election could be possible in a year if the international community pushed both the government and the rebels into a real negotiation. The UN official stressed that ending the conflict without following it up with a democratic process would only ensure the Islamic State’s return under a different name.

“What we need to do is wrap it [the conflict] up in a way that is stabilised, not just closed,” Mistura explained.

On August 23, the Amnesty International had said that civilians in Raqqa faced “fire from all sides”, as the United States-led coalition attempts to drive the Islamic State group out. Amnesty had said civilians in Raqqa faced an even greater risk to their lives now as the fighting had reached the final stages.