Iraq said on Wednesday its U.S.-backed military campaign against Islamic State had retaken around two-thirds of the territory seized by the militants in their lightning sweep across the country’s north and west in 2014.
“Daesh’s presence in Iraqi cities and provinces has declined. After occupying 40 percent of Iraqi territory, now only 14 percent remains,” government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said in a televised statement, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
That calculation appeared rosier than recent estimates from Washington. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Alhurra TV late last month that Islamic State had lost 44 percent of the territory it had held in Iraq.
Iraq’s military, along with Kurdish peshmerga forces, Shi’ite Muslim militias and Sunni tribal fighters, have recaptured several cities in the past year, including Ramadi, Tikrit and Baiji.
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