According to a defense consultancy, the so-called Islamic State (IS) group has lost 12% of the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria in the first half of this year.
IHS has found that the “caliphate,” which was proclaimed by IS two years ago, has shrunk to 68,300 sq km (26,370 sq miles). According to IHS, in January 2015, just six months after IS declared the creation of a caliphate, the terror group controlled some 90,800 sq km of Iraq and Syria, adding that by December, that had shrunk by 12,800 sq km to 78,000 sq km, a net loss of 14%. According to IHS, since then IS has lost a further 9,700 sq km and now controls 68,300 sq km, which is roughly the size of the Republic of Ireland or the US state of West Virginia.
In Syria, IS has come under pressure from Syrian government forces, who are backed by Russia and Iran, and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters who are supported by a US-led multinational collation. In February, the SDF captured the eastern town of Shaddadi, which was a major hub for IS, while in March, the ancient town of Palmyra was retaken by government forces. In neighbouring Iraq, troops and allied militiamen are preparing a long-awaited offensive to retake the northern city of Mosul, which is IS’s last remaining urban stronghold there.
IHS has reported that the losses of land in Iraq and Syria had led IS to set up its attacks on civilian targets elsewhere in the Middle East and in Europe, noting that such attacks are likely to intensify. Last week, almost 300 people died in an IS suicide bombing in Baghdad, Iraq. The attck came just days after the Iraqi government declared that it had retaken full control of the city of Fallujah, which is located just west to the capital.