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Iraqi Military: Islamic State Only Holds 7 Percent of Country

  • VOA News

Gen. Yahya Rasool, left, an Iraqi military spokesman, speaks during a press conference with Col. John Dorrian, a U.S. spokesman for the coalition, in Baghdad, April 11, 2017.

The Islamic State group has steadily lost ground in Iraq and now controls less than seven percent of the country's land area, an Iraqi military spokesman said.

Brigadier General Yahya Rasool says IS now controls less than a quarter of the land it held at its peak in the summer of 2014. At that time, the jihadist group controlled more than 40 percent of Iraq.

Rasool said, "As of March 31, they only held 6.8 percent of Iraqi territory."

The IS group seized Mosul in June 2014, before spreading its reach throughout the region, taking over large swaths of area in Iraq and Syria. Since then, the coalition forces have removed the IS militants from several towns and cities.

Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, began a massive operation to retake Mosul in October 2016. In January the coalition was able to secure the east side of the city, which is divided by the Tigris River, and has been battling on the west side of Mosul since mid-February.

The terrorist group still controls the towns of Qaim, Tal Afar and Hawija in Iraq, as well as Raqqa, in Syria, which serves as its de-facto capital.

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