Published: Thu, April 13, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

IS now controls less than seven percent of Iraq, military says

IS now controls less than seven percent of Iraq, military says

The Islamic State (ISIS) has lost most of the territories it held in Iraq after years of battles by Iraqi security forces to dislodge the extremist group from their strongholds in the country.

"The areas that under control of Daesh (IS group) until March 31, 2017 is 6.8 percent of Iraq's territory, after it was 40 percent of the country's territory in June 10, 2014", Brig. They retook control of the eastern side of the city, which is divided by the Tigris river, in January and have since mid-February been battling die-hard jihadists holed up in their last west Mosul redoubts.

He added that months later, the Iraqi security forces backed by tens of thousands of Shiite and Sunni volunteers, with air support provided by an worldwide coalition led by the USA, managed to recapture most of Iraq's key cities, towns and villages from ISIS.

The claim comes amid reports that the battle for western Mosul is turning out to be far more hard than the campaign to retake the east.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

Daesh overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi have since retaken most of the territory they lost.

ISIS militants still control the towns of Qaim, Tal Afar and Hawija in Iraq, as well as Raqqa, their de-facto capital in Syria.

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"Our troops are very cautious in their advance", Rasool told reporters in Baghdad.

But even if ISIL members are targeted, the fact that they are operating in areas still home to large numbers of residents means that civilians can easily still end up the victims.

"Military operations in Mosul's right back have been cautiously going on in order to prevent ISIL from using the civilians as human shields". The push has become bogged down with Iraqi security forces fighting in small streets in the old part of the city. "They aren't going anywhere".

ISIS has used hundreds of vehicle bombs along with drones rigged with explosives in Mosul.

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

Col Dorrian said the fight in Western Mosul had been tough but said Islamic State fighters had no escape.

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