The Islamic State (ISIS) has lost more than a quarter of its territory in Syria and Iraq. According to defence analyst Information Handling Services (IHS), the group’s reach has been reduced by 28 per cent since January 2015.
IHS reported that ISIS-held territory fell from 78,000 km2 to 65,500 km2 during the first nine months of this year. However, the extremist group’s losses have decreased since last-July.
This change in tempo coincided with the launch of the Turkey-baked Euphrates Shield Operation and reduced Russian airstrikes against ISIS positions in Syria.
“Last September, President Putin said it was Russia’s mission to fight international terrorism and specifically the Islamic State,” Alex Kokcharov, principal Russia analyst at IHS, said. “Our data suggests that is not the case.”
According to Kokcharov, Moscow’s top priority is to preserve President Assad’s government through military support. Putin seeks to “transform the Syrian civil war from a multi-party conflict into a binary one between the Syrian government and jihadist groups like the Islamic State; thereby undermining the case for providing international support to the opposition.”
While ISIS appears to have a short reprieve, they continue to loose strategic territory. In August, ISIS militants lost the border pocket of Manbij to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). In February, the extremist group was expelled from strategic areas in Hasakah Governorate by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and allied SDF fighters.
The Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi Army have recaptured dozens of villages and towns from ISIS over the past several months.
Reporting by: Laila Majdalawi | Source: ARA News & Agencies
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