Friday, 20 January 2017

MIDDLE-EAST Daesh lost nearly a quarter of its territory in 2016

LONDON: Daesh group lost nearly a quarter of its territory in Iraq and Syria last year, according to a report released Thursday by research firm IHS Markit.
Between early January 2016 and the end of the year Daesh self-declared “caliphate” fell from 78,000 to 60,400 square kilometers (47,500 to 38,500 square miles ), IHS Markit said.
“Daesh suffered unprecedented territorial losses in 2016, including key areas vital for the group’s governance project,” said Columb Strack, head of IHS’s Conflict Monitor.
The figures for last year demonstrate further decline of Daesh-controlled land, which the research group said dropped from 90,800 to 78,000 square kilometers in 2015.
Iraqi forces are currently fighting to recapture Mosul from Daesh which overran the country’s second city in early June 2014.
Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declared the so-called “caliphate” from Mosul and if government troops retake the city it would effectively end the group’s claim of running a state.
The IHS Markit analysts estimate that Daesh fighters could be driven out of Mosul within months, ending the military operation launched on October 17.
“We expect Iraqi government forces to recapture Mosul before the second half of the year,” Strack said.
The battle to regain Daesh self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, in northern Syria, will however prove more difficult, according to IHS Markit.
“Raqqa represents the core of Daesh and they are unlikely to leave without a fight.
“It would probably take a major ground intervention by one of the main external players, the US, Turkey, or Russian and Iranian-backed Syrian government forces, to expel Daesh from Raqqa in 2017,” said Strack.
A US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance has been battling since November 5 to drive Daesh from Raqqa, taking large areas of northern Raqqa province.
On December 10 the Syrian Democratic Forces announced the second phase of its Raqqa operation, aiming to liberate more territory and isolate the city.
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Author: verified_user


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