Islamic State group suffered in Syria and Iraq with new losses

Vastavam web: With new losses, the Islamic State group has been driven from more than 96 per cent of the large parts of Iraq and Syria it once held, crushing its goal of establishing a “caliphate” in the region.Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military yesterday announced the capture of the eastern Syrian city of Deir el- Zour, while Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory in retaking the town of Qaim on the border, the militants’ last significant urban area in Iraq.Since then, they have lost infrastructure, resources, supply routes, control over about 8 million people and most importantly administration of a contiguous territory. The extremist group may still prove to be a major challenge for months as it turns to a clandestine insurgency.
Iraqi forces’ last conventional military fight against IS played out in Qaim, on the western edge of Anbar province along the border with Syria. Operations began there in the last week of October.Brett McGurk, the US envoy for the fight against the Islamic State group, said Thursday the group is now facing “annihilation” with the losses in western Iraq and nearly 96 percent of its territory. He earlier said 6.6 million people have been liberated as the group lost over 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) in the last year.
The Islamic State “has not reclaimed single meter of this ground. Migrant and refugee flows reversed,” McGurk tweeted Thursday.Mayhoub said IS militants are now isolated and encircled in the countryside east of the city. Government forces are focused on Boukamal, the last IS urban center in Syria.Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. also are making a bid for the strategic border town from the other side of the Euphrates, renewing fears of a confrontation between the two forces seeking to control the border area.The group carried out beheadings and other killings in a public square in Raqqa to try to project its ruthless nature.
The city also was the center of its media operations, where videos about the benefits of life under IS were produced.Planning for some of the major violence in Europe was traced to Raqqa, including the deadly attacks in Paris in 2015 and in Brussels in 2016.Mayadeen was also a major point in the race for control of the oil-rich eastern Deir el-Zour province. Washington has feared advances by Syrian troops and allied fighters toward the Iraqi border could help Iran expand its influence in the region and establish a “Shiite corridor” of land links from Iraq to Lebanon, and all the way to Israel.