Report: Islamic State suffered unprecedented strategic losses in 2016


Report: Islamic State suffered unprecedented strategic losses in 2016

The Islamic State extremist group has lost 16 per cent of its territory in the first nine months of 2016, and its most recent setbacks are “unprecedented in their strategic significance,” analysis firm IHS Markit said on Sunday.

The group currently controls some 65,500 square kilometres of Syria and Iraq, down from over 90,000 square kilometres at the beginning of the previous year, according to an analysis released by the firm.

The extremist organization’s most recent losses have been near the Syrian-Turkish border, to which it has now lost all access, and in the hinterland of Mosul in northern Iraq, the largest city it holds.

“The loss of direct road access to cross-border smuggling routes into Turkey severely restricts the group’s ability to recruit new fighters from abroad, while the Iraqi government is poised to launch its offensive on Mosul,” Columb Strack, a senior analyst with IHS Markit,

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed to push Islamic State back out of Mosul this year, after his forces recaptured the key western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.

But ISH Markit said that fighting between Syrian Kurdish forces and Islamic State had dropped by 87 per cent since Turkey launched cross-border operations that it said were aimed at both groups.

The Kurdish-led forces have been the key US ally on the ground against Islamic State in Syria, and have been responsible for most of the jihadists’ territorial losses in Syria.

Turkey, however, distrusts them due to their links with banned Kurdish rebels operating on its territory.