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IS has lost 95% of its 'caliphate': US-led coalition

Un membre des troupes d'élite irakiennes brandit un drapeau retourné de l'Etat islamique, le 1er juillet 2017 à Mossoul, en Irak
Fadel SENNA (AFP/Archives)

The Islamic State group has lost 95 percent of the cross-border "caliphate" it declared three years ago in Iraq and Syria, the US-led coalition fighting it has said.

"Since our coalition was formed in 2014, ISIS has lost 95 percent of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria," Washington's envoy to the coalition, Brett McGurk, said late Wednesday after a meeting in Jordan, using an alternative acronym for IS.

The jihadist group swept across Syria and Iraq the same year, declaring a cross-border "caliphate" in territory roughly the size of Britain, attracting thousands of foreign fighters.

But several military offensives, including those backed by the US-led coalition, have since seen IS lose most areas it once controlled.

"More than 7.5 million people have now been liberated from ISIS," McGurk said in a statement, adding that the group's finances are now "at their lowest levels to date".

With the jihadists' dreams of statehood lying in tatters following the battlefield defeats, Western attention is increasingly pivoting to trying to block foreign fighters from returning home to carry out attacks.

McGurk insisted that flows of foreign IS fighters into Syria have "nearly stopped", and that jihadists are increasingly being picked up as they cross borders.

"We are enhancing cooperation and border security, aviation security, law enforcement, financial sanctions, counter-messaging, and intelligence sharing to prevent ISIS from carrying out attacks in our homelands," he said.

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