Published: Thu, April 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Iraq says Islamic State has lost most of the land it seized

Iraq says Islamic State has lost most of the land it seized

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group now controls less than 7 per cent of Iraq, down from the 40 per cent it held almost three years ago, a military spokesman said Tuesday.

Brig Gen Yahya Rasool, a military spokesman, says the extremist group now controls less than 30,000 square kilometres in Iraq, or 6.8 per cent of the country's territory, down from more than 40 per cent at its height.

Daesh overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi have since retaken most of the territory they lost. But a coalition of forces that included the Iraqi army, Shiite militiamen, Sunni tribesmen and backed by a USA -led coalition have managed to take back much of the country over the past three years.

The terror group removed one ear from 33 soldiers caught fleeing the battle in Mosul, their last stronghold in Iraq, a source told Alsumaria News.

"Their ability and capability became stronger and more developed" since the jihadists shocked Iraqi security and intelligence forces with their lightning offensive in June 2104, says Mr. Hashimi.

While Mosul is the centre of operations for ISIS in Iraq, the group also controls Qaim, Tal Afar and Hawija.

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After months of fighting for Iraq's second largest city, government forces liberated eastern Mosul on January 24, including key landmarks such as Mosul University. The push has become bogged down with Iraqi security forces fighting in small streets in the old part of the city.

ISIS has used hundreds of auto bombs along with drones rigged with explosives in Mosul.

Col. John Dorrian, a USA spokesman for the coalition, said the fight for western Mosul has been "difficult". Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been displaced, and many have been unable to return even after the fighting because of demolished infrastructure and the lingering threat of attacks.

Colonel Dorrian said the fight in Western Mosul had been tough but said Islamic State fighters had no escape. "They aren't going anywhere - they will be defeated and the people of Mosul will be free", he said.

"Though the fighting is going to be very hard. this enemy is completely surrounded".

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