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Islamic State loses parts of Syria, Iraq

| Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, 8:06 p.m.

BAGHDAD — The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said Tuesday that the terrorists have lost territory they held in Iraq and Syria.

Baghdad-based spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the terrorists have lost 40 percent of their territory in Iraq and 20 percent in Syria, adding that they are in a “defensive crouch.”

Since the U.S.-led coalition began launching airstrikes in 2014, Kurdish forces have pushed ISIS out of parts of northern Iraq, including the town of Sinjar, and driven the extremists out of a band of Syrian territory along the Turkish border. Further south, Iraqi forces and Shiite militias recaptured the Iraqi city of Tikrit last year.

But ISIS has made fresh advances, capturing the Syrian town of Palmyra — home to famed Roman-era ruins — and the western Iraqi city of Ramadi in May of last year.

Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led airstrikes drove Islamic State terrorists from Ramadi's city center last month, recapturing most of the provincial capital of the sprawling Anbar province.

“All of these things add up, and we believe this enemy is weaker,” Warren said, adding that ISIS has not gained new territory since May. “Militarily, they are struggling,” he added.

ISIS has continued to launch attacks at Iraqi military positions in Anbar province.

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