Major IS setbacks in Syria



Sat, 01 Jul 2017 - 02:30 GMT


Sat, 01 Jul 2017 - 02:30 GMT

Islamic State flag - File photo

Islamic State flag - File photo

BEIRUT - 1 July 2017: Islamic State group jihadists have withdrawn from Syria's Aleppo province, a monitor said Friday, in the latest of a series of setbacks in the country where it seized swathes of territory in 2014:

The jihadists were driven out of Kobane, a Kurdish town in northern Syria on the Turkish border, by US-backed Kurdish forces on January 26, 2015 after more than four months of fighting. The town became a first symbol of the fight against the IS.

On August 6, 2016, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of Arab and Kurdish fighters backed by US air strikes, recaptured Manbij following a two-month battle. IS had seized the northern town in 2014 and used it as a hub for moving jihadists to and from Europe. It also controlled a key IS supply route.

Turkish troops and Syrian rebels swept almost unopposed into the border town on August 24, 2016 during Ankara's Operation Euphrates Shield, which also targets Kurdish militia.

Syrian rebels backed by Turkish warplanes and artillery captured Dabiq on October 16, 2016. 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 Turkish army announced on February 24, 2017 that it had taken full control of the town of Al-Bab, an IS bastion in northern Aleppo province.

IS fighters first overran the historic city of Palmyra -- a UNESCO World Heritage site -- in May 2015, and government troops recaptured it 10 months later.
The jihadist group retook it in late 2016, but Russian-backed Syrian forces wrested back control on March 2, 2017.

On May 10, 2017, the US-backed SDF alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters captured the key city of Tabqa and its nearby dam from IS, as part of the broader offensive for IS de facto capital Raqa further east.

The assault on Raqa, an operation dubbed "Wrath of the Euphrates", was launched in November 2016.

On June 6, 2017 the SDF entered Raqa and have since seized a quarter of the city. On June 29 they cut off the last IS escape route.

On June 4, Syria's army seized the key town of Maskana from the IS, part of a major operation launched in mid-January, with the support of Russia, to conquer the jihadists in Aleppo province.

On June 29, Syrian government forces seized control of a key highway in southeastern Aleppo province, prompting the last IS jihadists to withdraw from the area, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

In Iraq the noose was also tightening around the IS in its stronghold Mosul.
On Friday a senior Iraqi commander said Iraq will declare the liberation of Mosul in the "next few days."



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