IS group loses most territories it held in Iraq: spokesman

19 April, 2017, 00:57 | Author: Jonathon Greene
  • ISIL kills dozens of civilians trying to flee Mosul

The Iraqi army says the territory held by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the Arab country has shrunk from 40 percent to less than seven percent over the past three years.

"Daesh controlled 40 percent of Iraqi land", Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman of the Joint Operations Command that manages the campaign against ISIS, told reporters on Tuesday, AFP news agency reported."As of March 31, they only held 6.8 percent of Iraqi territory".

The battle for Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities, began last October and the outcome will likely determine whether Iraq's various sects can work together to keep the country from fracturing.

Months later, the Iraqi security forces backed by tens of thousands of Shiite and Sunni volunteers, known as Hashd Shaabi paramilitary units, and with the air support provided by global coalition led by the United States, the troops managed to recapture most of Iraq's key cities, towns and villages from the IS group.

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

The eastern half of the city is now completely under the control of Iraqi security forces, Rasool said.

The full recapture of Mosul, the de facto capital of the "caliphate" that ISIL proclaimed almost three years ago, would end the groups' dreams of a cross-border state. Last month, Amnesty International slammed the US for deadly strikes, saying "hundreds of civilians" have been killed. The troops are pushing toward the western edge of Mosul's densely populated old city center, where roughly 400,000 residents are believed to still be trapped under IS rule.

"Every strike that we conduct, we conduct using precision-guided munitions. We never, ever target civilians", Dorrian said.

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

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