IS Now Controls Less than Seven Percent of Iraq

Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh attend a Palm Sunday service at the Church of the Immaculate Conception

Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh attend a Palm Sunday service at the Church of the Immaculate Conception

The Islamic State group now controls less than seven percent of Iraq, down from the 40 percent it held almost three years ago, a military spokesman said yesterday.

"The areas that under control of Daesh (IS group) until March 31, 2017 is 6.8 percent of Iraq's territory, after it was 40 percent of the country's territory in June 10, 2014", Brig.

"Al-Hadbaa minaret has been surrounded (by Iraqi forces), but it is known that it lies in a crowded residential area in the old city's center", Rasoul said, referring to the minaret in the Great Mosqiue of Al-Nuri.

Three members of the same family were killed by a USA -led coalition in Iraq's northern city of Mosul, according to a local anti-terrorism officer.

Gen. Yahya Rasool told a news conference.

The battle for Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities, began last October and the outcome will likely determine whether Iraq's various sects can work together to keep the country from fracturing.

ISIL's reach peaked in 2014 when it controlled nearly 40 percent of the country.

He said that the group also seized large amounts of weapons and ammunition left by the Iraqi security forces who fled their military camps and positions during the blitzkrieg of the extremist militants.

The claim comes amid reports that the battle for western Mosul is turning out to be far more hard than the campaign to retake the east. In January the coalition was able to secure the east side of the city, which is divided by the Tigris River, and has been battling on the west side of Mosul since mid-February.

As a result they are prepared to fight to the last man, using suicide bombers, vehicles packed with explosives, and even human shields to stall the Iraqi advance.

Col. John Dorrian, a US spokesman for the coalition, said the fight for western Mosul has been "difficult".

Meanwhile, Rasoul said that the military operations in west Mosul are going on according to the command's plan.

"Once that task is accomplished, the coalition will be here to support our Iraqi partners as they eliminate Daesh from every corner of Iraq", Col. John Dorrian said.

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