ISIS now controls less than 7 percent of country: Iraq army

An Iraqi Christian resident of Qaraqosh attends Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group now controls less than 7 per cent of Iraq, down from the 40 per cent it held almost three years ago, a military spokesman said Tuesday.

"As of March 31 (this year), they only held 6.8 per cent of Iraqi territory", he said.

Special anti-terror forces of Iraq have completely liberated the Matahin district in the western part of Mosul from Islamic State (ISIL or Daesh, outlawed in Russia) militants, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarallah, the chief of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, said Sunday.

"Military operations in Mosul's right back have been cautiously going on in order to prevent ISIL from using the civilians as human shields".

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ISIL's reach peaked in 2014 when it controlled nearly 40 percent of the country.

The eastern half of the city is now completely under the control of Iraqi security forces, Rasool said.

Fighting in Iraq's second city has been ongoing since October a year ago, with Iraqi forces backed by Shia militias and coalition air support now fully in control of the eastern part of the city.

The column of fuel tankers was destroyed on Tuesday in al-Yarmouk and al-Soarah districts in western Mosul, Hashd al-Shaabi forces, also known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) announced, Iraq's al-Sumaria news website reported. "The biggest challenge they face is the civilians".

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However, Rasool asserted that the United States and other Western countries have provided airstrikes, intelligence and equipment to the Iraqi forces which began their offensive in October to free the city of Mosul from IS group.

Islamic State has used hundreds of auto bombs along with drones rigged with explosives in Mosul. "They aren't going anywhere".

"Once that task is accomplished, the coalition will be here to support our Iraqi partners as they eliminate Daesh from every corner of Iraq", Col. John Dorrian said. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been displaced, and many have been unable to return even after the fighting because of demolished infrastructure and the lingering threat of attacks.

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