The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group now controls less than seven percent of Iraq, down from the 40 percent it held almost three years ago, an Iraqi military spokesman has said.
Brig Gen Yahya Rasool, a military spokesman, says the extremist group now controls less than 30,000 square kilometres in Iraq, or 6.8 per cent of the country's territory, down from more than 40 per cent at its height.
That area has been whittled down to about 6.8 percent of Iraqi territory or 30,000 square kilometers after extensive military operations, which are still going on in the city of Mosul, he said.
Photo shows Iraqi forces in March, holding an Islamic State (IS) flag, as they advance northwest of Mosul during the battle to recapture the city's western region from the militants (Mohammed Sawaf / AFP).
The terror group removed one ear from 33 soldiers caught fleeing the battle in Mosul, their last stronghold in Iraq, a source told Alsumaria News.
In January, Iraqi forces drove ISIL terrorists from eastern Mosul as part of a wide-ranging campaign launched late a year ago to retake the city, which ISIL overran in mid-2014. At that time, the jihadist group controlled more than 40 percent of Iraq. Gen. Yahya Rasool told reporters. "The biggest challenge they face is the civilians".
The coalition has come under criticism following the deaths last month in west Mosul of scores of civilians in an air strike it admitted may have been its own.
The federal police said in a statement on Tuesday they have been reinforcing their positions in Western Mosul in preparation for a push on the al-Nuri Mosque where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in 2014. The U.S. spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, Col. John I. Dorrian, attended the press conference.
"Do not lose sight of the fact that even though the fighting is going to be very hard, this enemy is completely surrounded", he said.
Meanwhile, Rasoul said that the military operations in west Mosul are going on according to the command's plan.
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