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

Posted April 13, 2017

ISIL's reach peaked in 2014 when it controlled nearly 40 percent of the country.

"This fighting in the western side of Mosul has been hard because of the enemy's tactics, of not only hiding amongst the civilian population but also actively pulling civilians into harm's way, surrounding their snipers with civilians, loading buildings that they are firing from with civilians and publicly executing civilians who are trying to escape the danger", said Colonel John L Dorrian, spokesman for the US-led International Coalitions.

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.

Various members of the forces, Iraqi and foreign, battling the jihadists have disagreed in the past on control of territory figures but IS has been losing ground steadily over close to two years.

In June 2014, the extremist IS group took control of large areas in western and northern Iraq, and seized large amounts of weapons and ammunition left by the Iraqi security forces who fled their military camps and positions during the blitzkrieg of the extremist militants.

Iraqi forces liberated the western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in June and December respectively past year and the central city of Tikrit in March 2015.

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Its reach in Iraq peaked in August the same year when a second offensive saw it take over areas of northern Iraq that were home to various minorities and had been under the control of the autonomous Kurds.

"Once that task is accomplished, the coalition will be here to support our Iraqi partners as they eliminate ISIL from every corner of Iraq", Colonel John Dorrian said.

In this context the Iraqi general said that the Iraqi forces are relying on infantry forces, in order to avoid civilian casualties. "The biggest challenge they face is the civilians". "They aren't going anywhere".

The operation began in October 2016 and led to the liberation of Mosul's eastern part this January.

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