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Iraq Says IS Now Holds Only 14 Percent Of Its Territory

Iraq says it has retaken around two-thirds of the territory seized by the Islamic State (IS) in the militant group's lightning-fast 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 on May 11.

That calculation appeared rosier than recent estimates from Washington. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last month that IS had lost 44 percent of the territory it held in Iraq.

Iraq's military, along with Kurdish Peshmerga forces, Shi'ite Muslim militias, and Sunni tribal fighters, all backed by U.S.-led coalition forces, have recaptured several cities in the past year, including Ramadi, Tikrit, and Baiji.

Yet IS still manages to launch deadly attacks in areas under the government's nominal control. On May 11, car bombs in Baghdad killed at least 93 people.

Iraqi officials say they will retake the northern city of Mosul this year, but in private many question whether that is possible.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

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