BEIRUT — The Iraqi army on Friday retook the last town in the country still held by Daesh, driving another nail into the coffin of the extremists’ dreams of statehood.
Daesh has lost 95 per cent of the cross-border “caliphate” it declared in Iraq and Syria in 2014, according to the US-led coalition fighting the terrorists.
The group is now clinging on to just a few small pockets of territory in Iraq and Syria, a far cry from the vast stretches it controlled after rampaging across the region.
Here are the remaining Daesh holdouts:
After the loss of the small Euphrates valley town of Rawa in a lightning offensive launched by Iraqi forces at dawn Friday, scraps of desert are all that remain under Daesh control in the country.
Baghdad’s forces are waging a final push along their side of the frontier with Syria to wipe out the last remnants of Daesh territory.
The operation is the last leg of a punishing campaign that saw Iraq reclaim its second city of Mosul in July after ferocious urban combat.
The border area of Iraq’s Anbar province is dominated by a handful of powerful Sunni tribes, some of which have dispatched fighters to battle Daesh alongside government forces.
The region has been known as a hotbed of extremist insurgency and smuggling since the US-led invasion of Iraq ousted Saddam Hussain in 2003, long before the arrival of Daesh in 2014.
Syrian regime forces are battling to capture the border town of Al Bu Kamal, after Daesh launched a surprise counter attack last week and snatched back its final urban holdout.
Beyond the town, Daesh controls some two dozen desert villages along the Euphrates River in the surrounding oil-rich Deir Al Zor province that once provided a major source of the group’s illicit income.
The extremists are confronted there both by Syrian regime forces backed up by Russian air power and a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters supported by a US-led coalition.
Away from the barren frontier region, Daesh retains a presence in the Yarmuk refugee camp and the Hajar Aswad district just south of the capital Damascus, where the group is battling other terrorists and pro-regime forces.
In the central region of Homs, Daesh is being squeezed by troops loyal to President Bashar Al Assad and their Russian backers as it struggles to maintain its grip on a few small areas.
To the south in Daraa province on the border with Jordan an affiliated group called Jaish Khaled Bin Walid is mainly battling rebel groups.