Published: Fri, April 14, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

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

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

BAGHDAD (AP) — 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.

That figure came in a press conference in Baghdad, where the Iraqi spokesman of the Joint Operation Command spoke to reporters.

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 the group holed up in their last west Mosul redoubts.

Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes have gradually pushed the jihadis out of a string of towns and cities over the past two years, and are now battling the group in Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.

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.

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.

The United States and other Western countries have assisted with air support, intelligence and equipment, General Rasool said.

Meanwhile, US-backed forces advanced to within 2 km of a key stronghold near Raqqa, and a counter-attack by the militants was repulsed, officials said.

Their troops are now trying to advance west, but have been bogged down by bloody close-quarters fighting through the maze-like streets of the old city.

The extremist group has also lost ground in Syria, and is now fighting US-backed forces near Raqqa, the de facto capital of its self-styled "Caliphate".

ISIS has used hundreds of auto bombs along with drones rigged with explosives in Mosul. Col John Dorrian, a USA spokesman for the coalition, said the fight for western Mosul has been "difficult".

Dorrian said the fight in Western Mosul had been "difficult" but said ISIS militants had no escape.

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