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

  • An Iraqi special forces lieutenant takes a selfie with the plume from an airstrike, during heavy fighting in the Yarmouk district of western Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

    An Iraqi special forces lieutenant takes a selfie with the plume from an airstrike, during heavy fighting in the Yarmouk district of western Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Associated Press

  • An Iraqi special forces soldier moves through a hole in a wall during heavy fighting in the Yarmouk district of western Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

    An Iraqi special forces soldier moves through a hole in a wall during heavy fighting in the Yarmouk district of western Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Associated Press

  • Iraqi women flee heavy fighting in the Yarmouk district of western Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

    Iraqi women flee heavy fighting in the Yarmouk district of western Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Associated Press

  • An Iraqi woman carries a bird as she flees heavy fighting in the Yarmouk district of western Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

    An Iraqi woman carries a bird as she flees heavy fighting in the Yarmouk district of western Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Associated Press

  • A toddler reaches for an overhead wire as she flees with her family during heavy fighting in the Yarmouk district of western Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

    A toddler reaches for an overhead wire as she flees with her family during heavy fighting in the Yarmouk district of western Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Associated Press

 
 
Posted4/11/2017 7:00 AM

BAGHDAD -- The Islamic State group has lost more than three-fourths of the territory it seized when it swept across Iraq in the summer of 2014, the Iraqi military said Tuesday.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, a military spokesman, said the extremist group currently controls less than 30,000 square kilometers (12,000 sq. miles) in Iraq, or 6.8 percent of the country's territory, down from more than 40 percent at its height.

 

The extremist group has also lost ground in Syria, and is currently fighting U.S.-backed forces near Raqqa, the de facto capital of its self-styled Islamic caliphate.

Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led airstrikes have gradually pushed the militants out of a string of towns and cities over the past two years, and are currently battling the extremists in Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. Iraq declared eastern Mosul "fully liberated" in January, and Rasool said Iraqi forces have retaken more than half of the more densely populated western side.

"Our troops are very cautious in their advance," Rasool told reporters in Baghdad. "The biggest challenge they face is the civilians."

Col. John Dorrian, a U.S. spokesman for the coalition, said the fight for western Mosul has been "difficult."

"The enemy's tactics are not only hiding among 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 escape the danger," he said.

Victory against IS has come at a staggering cost, with some towns and neighborhoods reduced to rubble by airstrikes and shelling. 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.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Attention: We are experiencing technical difficulties with our Facebook Comments module at this time. Comments will remain disabled until we are able to resolve the problem. We apologize for the interruption. We invite you to engage with our content and talk with other commenters on our Daily Herald Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DailyHeraldFans/. Thank you.