'ISIS has lost 95% of its caliphate'

Head of international coalition fighting jihadist group says it has lost 95% of its self-proclaimed "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria.

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Elad Benari,

ISIS flag
ISIS flag
Reuters

The Islamic State (ISIS) group has lost 95 percent of the cross-border "caliphate" it declared three years ago in Iraq and Syria, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the jihadist group says.

"Since our coalition was formed in 2014, ISIS has lost 95 percent of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria," Washington's envoy to the coalition, Brett McGurk, said late Wednesday after a meeting in Jordan, according to AFP.

The jihadist group swept across Syria and Iraq the same year, declaring a cross-border "caliphate" in territory roughly the size of Britain, attracting thousands of foreign fighters.

Since then, several military offensives, including those backed by the U.S.-led coalition, have since seen IS lose most areas it once controlled.

"More than 7.5 million people have now been liberated from ISIS," McGurk said in a statement, adding that the group's finances are now "at their lowest levels to date".

With the jihadists' dreams of statehood lying in tatters following the battlefield defeats, Western attention is increasingly pivoting to trying to block foreign fighters from returning home to carry out attacks.

McGurk insisted that flows of foreign ISIS fighters into Syria have "nearly stopped", and that jihadists are increasingly being picked up as they cross borders.

"We are enhancing cooperation and border security, aviation security, law enforcement, financial sanctions, counter-messaging, and intelligence sharing to prevent ISIS from carrying out attacks in our homelands," he was quoted as having said.

The jihadists recently suffered a series of stunningly quick defeats, including the loss of their de facto capital Raqqa in Syria.

The group was reported to have lost the town of Albu Kamal in eastern Syria, but later recaptured it from the Syrian military.








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