The Islamic State (IS) group has lost most of the territories it held in Iraq after years of battles by Iraqi security forces to dislodge the extremist group from their strongholds in the country, an Iraqi military spokesman said on Tuesday.
ISIS once controlled around 40 per cent of Iraq, but that has now been whittled down to just 7 per cent, according to joint operations commander Brigadier General Yahya Rasool.
The extremist group is still fighting desperately to keep its last major stronghold in the western side of Mosul, as well as smaller areas in Tal Afar, Hawija in northern Iraq, Qaim and Aana near the border with Syria in the western province of Anbar. Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January and launched the battle in the west in February.
Daesh overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi have since retaken most of the territory they lost.
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"Our troops are very cautious in their advance", Brig Gen Rasool said in Baghdad.
"This fighting in the western side of Mosul has been hard because of the enemy's tactics, of not only hiding amongst the civilian population but also actively pulling civilians into harm's way, surrounding their snipers with civilians, loading buildings that they are firing from with civilians and publicly executing civilians who are trying to escape the danger", said Colonel John L Dorrian, spokesman for the US-led International Coalitions. "They aren't going anywhere - they will be defeated and the people of Mosul will be free", he said.
ISIS has used hundreds of vehicle bombs along with drones rigged with explosives in Mosul. The U.S. spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, Col. John I. Dorrian, attended the press conference.
Colonel Dorrian said the fight in Western Mosul had been tough but said Islamic State fighters had no escape. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been displaced, and many have been unable to return even after the fighting because of demolished infrastructure and the lingering threat of attacks.