The Islamic State group in Iraq
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Saturday declared the end of the war to expel the Islamic State jihadist group from Iraq. Here are some key dates in the history of IS in the country:
January 4, 2014: Iraq loses its first key town since the US-led invasion of 2003, as fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and allies capture Fallujah and parts of Ramadi, west of Baghdad.
The vast Anbar province that surrounds the two towns is predominantly Sunni Arab and fiercely resisted US troops when they occupied Iraq.
June 10, 2014: ISIL launches a lightning offensive in northwestern Iraq, seizing second city Mosul and Sunni Arab areas bordering the autonomous Kurdistan region. Tens of thousands of Christians and Yazidis flee.
June 29, 2014: ISIL declares a “caliphate” in territories it holds in Iraq and Syria, rebranding itself the Islamic State and declaring its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “caliph”.
August 8, 2014: US warplanes strike IS positions in northern Iraq in response to an appeal from the Iraqi government.
September 23: The United States and Arab allies launch air strikes on IS in Syria after an international coalition is formed to defeat the group.
Early IS losses in Iraq
March 31, 2015: Iraq announces the “liberation” of Tikrit, 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of Baghdad, after nearly 10 months under IS rule.
February 9, 2016: Anbar provincial capital Ramadi is recaptured from the jihadists.
June 26: Iraqi forces retake Fallujah.
Battle for Mosul
October 17, 2016: Around 30,000 Iraqi soldiers, police and special forces members, backed by US-led air support, launch a vast operation to retake Mosul.
Three months later, they retake the city’s east and turn their attention to the west.
July 9: Abadi declares victory in Mosul, capping nine months of fighting.
Battle for Tal Afar
August 20, 2017: Iraq announces the start of an assault on Tal Afar, 70 kilometres (40 miles) west of Mosul.
August 31: Abadi’s office says Tal Afar and the surrounding area are fully retaken, declaring that “the province of Nineveh is now entirely in the hands of our forces”.
Battle for Hawija
September 1: Iraq announces plans to retake IS’s last two enclaves in the country, a pocket around the insurgent bastion of Hawija and a stretch of the Euphrates Valley near the border with Syria.
October 5: Abadi says his forces have retaken Hawija.
November: Iraqi forces reclaim Al-Qaim, the main town in the group’s last bastion in the country along the border with Syria, as well as Rawa.
On December 8, 2017, Iraqi forces announce a new drive against holdout IS fighters in their refuge in the western desert. A day later, Abadi declares the “end of the war” against IS and “complete control” of Iraq’s border region with Syria.
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