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

Posted April 13, 2017

Isis has lost more than three-quarters of the territory it seized when it swept across Iraq in the summer of 2014 - leaving in control of just seven per cent of the country the Iraqi military has said.

In January, Iraqi forces drove ISIL terrorists from eastern Mosul as part of a wide-ranging campaign launched late past year to retake the city, which ISIL overran in mid-2014.

Special anti-terror forces of Iraq have completely liberated the Matahin district in the western part of Mosul from Islamic State (ISIL or Daesh, outlawed in Russia) militants, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarallah, the chief of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, said Sunday.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

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

That area has been whittled down to about 6.8 percent of Iraqi territory or 30,000 square kilometers after extensive military operations, which are still going on in the city of Mosul, he said.

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The full recapture of Mosul, the de facto capital of the "caliphate" that ISIL proclaimed almost three years ago, would end the groups' dreams of a cross-border state. Speaking at the same press conference in Baghdad yesterday, the spokesman for the US-led coalition vowed that Iraq would not be abandoned after the recapture of Mosul.

Coalition and Iraqi airstrikes have resulted in scores of civilian deaths, leading to criticism from worldwide rights groups and Russian Federation. "They aren't going anywhere - they will be defeated and the people of Mosul will be free", he said.

"Do not lose sight of the fact that even though the fighting is going to be very hard, this enemy is completely surrounded", Dorrian said.

"Every strike that we conduct, we conduct using precision-guided munitions".

The battle for Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities, began last October and the outcome will likely determine whether Iraq's various sects can work together to keep the country from fracturing. "Every strike that we conduct is coordinated directly with the Iraqi security forces", he said. "We never, ever target civilians", Dorrian said. "The biggest challenge they face is the civilians".

In Syria itself, it also holds the city of Raqqa and other areas.