Islamic State is ceding territory in Iraq and Syria: US officials

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ISIS militants in Raqqa. File photo

ARA News

Erbil – The US-led coalition said on Friday that the Islamic State (ISIS) has lost 4 percent of its territory in Iraq and 2 percent of its territory in Syria, since the start of operations in Raqqa and Mosul. The coalition also indicated that the would-be Caliphate had ceded the majority of the territory it once held in Iraq.

“[ISIS] has now lost 56% of the territory they controlled in Iraq in August 2014, and 27% in Syria, as they are continually defeated on the battlefield. Key losses in October include the town of Dabiq in Syria, as well as areas near Ar Ramadi and Hadithah in Iraq,” the US-led coalition said in a statement.

A map was released by the coalition, showing ISIS’ deminishing influence, from August 2014 to the present day. It indicated that the extremist group was no longer dominant in 30,000-32,000 km2 in Iraq and 11,500-12,500 km2 in Syria.

“Daesh probably has a presence and freedom of movement in much of the unpopulated areas depicted on the map, but we cannot determine its level of influence in these areas. These estimates are subject to change because of the dynamic nature of the conflict,” the coalition added, employing an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Emphasizing the jihadists’ weakened position, Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk said that the “ISIS Caliphate is crumbling month-by-month.”

McGurk added that US leadership is now focused on a smooth transition after the election of Donald Trump. “I had the privilege of working with President Bush during the transition to [Barack Obama] and now an orderly transition begins to the new President-Elect,” he said.

The presidential envoy made it clear that the transition would not distract from the campaign against ISIS. “This democratic transition process is what makes our country great and our enemies, the ISIS terrorists, will have no chance to breathe,” he said.

According to McGurk, joint coalition operations are proceeding apace and allied forces are moving “towards Raqqa city and Mosul, with seventy new airstrikes in the last 48-hours.”

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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