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Major IS group setbacks in Libya, Syria and Iraq

AFP , Monday 5 Dec 2016
Libya
File photo of the Libyan army operation against the Islamic state militants (Photo: Reuters)
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The Islamic State group, which has just lost its Libyan coastal stronghold of Sirte, has also suffered a series of major setbacks in Iraq and Syria.

The Islamist militants, who since 2014 have seized swathes of territory in the three countries, are currently under attack in their strongholds of Mosul in northern Iraq and Raqa in northern Syria.

Libyan loyalist forces said Monday they have seized full control of Sirte from IS, which conquered it in 2015.

However, experts say the loss of Sirte, while a significant setback, will not spell the end of the IS presence in Libya, as they have already moved southwards.

KOBANE: The Kurdish town in northern Syria became a symbol of the fight against IS. The Islamist militants were driven out by US-backed Kurdish forces in January 2015 after more than four months of fighting.

TAL ABYAD: Another town on the Turkish border, Tal Abyad was captured by Kurdish and Arab rebels in June 2015. It was the gateway to a key supply route between Turkey and Raqa.

PALMYRA: IS seized the ancient town in May 2015. It blew up UNESCO-listed Roman-era temples and looted ancient relics. Syrian regime forces backed by Russian warplanes and allied militia ousted IS in March this year.

MANBIJ: On August 6, 2016, a coalition of Arab and Kurdish fighters backed by US air strikes recaptured Manbij following a two-month battle. IS had seized the town in 2014 and used it as a hub for moving Islamist militants to and from Europe. It also controlled a key IS supply route.

JARABULUS: Turkish troops and Syrian rebels swept almost unopposed into the border town on August 24 during Operation Euphrates Shield, which also targets Kurdish militia.

DABIQ: Syrian rebels backed by Turkish warplanes and artillery captured Dabiq in October. Under IS control since August 2014, Dabiq has ideological significance because of a prophecy that Christian and Muslim forces will battle there at the end of times.

 

THE BATTLE FOR RAQA: On November 5, a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters began an operation to capture IS's de facto Syrian capital.

AL BAB: Syrian rebels, backed by Turkish forces, are at the gateway to Al Bab, an IS bastion in northern Aleppo province.

TIKRIT: The home town of late dictator Saddam Hussein north of Baghdad fell in June 2014, soon after Mosul. It was declared liberated in March 2015 in an operation by Iraqi troops, police and Shiite-dominated paramilitaries.

SINJAR: Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by US-led coalition air power recaptured Sinjar, northwest of Baghdad, in November 2015, cutting a key supply line linking jihadist-held areas in Iraq and Syria. IS captured Sinjar in August 2014 and pursued a campaign of massacres, enslavement and rape against its Yazidi minority.

RAMADI: The capital of Anbar, Iraq's largest province stretching from its borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the western approach to Baghdad. Ramadi was declared fully recaptured in February, 2016 about nine months after IS seized it.

FALLUJAH: Anbar's second city, close to Baghdad. It fell to anti-government fighters in 2014 and later became a key IS stronghold. Iraqi forces recaptured it in June 2016.

QAYYARAH: Iraqi forces backed by coalition aircraft retook Qayyarah in August, providing Baghdad with a platform to assault Mosul, the country's second city.

QARAQOSH: In late October hundreds of displaced Iraqi Christians celebrated the Iraqi military's retaking Qaraqosh southeast of Mosul.

THE BATTLE FOR MOSUL: Since an offensive began on October 17 against IS's last Iraqi stronghold, tens of thousands of pro-government forces have surrounded the city and advanced into eastern districts.

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