Global Independent Analytics

Iraq says Islamic State control shrinks to 14 percent of its territory

U.S.-backed military campaign against Islamic State had retaken around two-thirds of the territory seized by the militants in their lightning sweep across the country's north and west in 2014

Reuters reports: "Daesh's occupation in Iraqi cities and provinces has decreased. After obtaining 40 percent of Iraqi territory, now only 14 percent remains," government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said in a televised announcement, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

That estimation appeared more optimistic than recent evaluation from Washington. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Alhurra TV late last month that Islamic State had lost 44 percent of the territory it had seized in Iraq.

Iraq’s military forces, backed by the Kurdish peshmerga militants, Shi'ite Muslim militias and Sunni tribal soldiers, have recaptured several cities in the past year, including Ramadi, Tikrit and Baiji.

However, Islamic State has successfully performed numerous deadly attacks in areas under the government's formal control. On Wednesday, a suicide car bomb in Baghdad's Sadr City district killed at least 52 people and wounded more than 78.

Iraqi officials have pledged to retake the northern city of Mosul this year, but in private many doubt whether that is possible.

Iraq's military established a new front in March against the militants in the Makhmour area, which it called the first point of a wider campaign to recapture Mosul, around 60 km (40 miles) further north. Development has been slow, and to date, Iraqi forces have taken just five villages.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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