In the year after ISIS rampaged across the Middle East in a bid to seize territory and establish a self-declared Islamic “caliphate,” the terrorist group continued to be a major threat to the world, pulling off sophisticated attacks and recruiting thousands more people to its cause.
But though concerns continue to grow continue to grow over how the US handles the threat of terrorism, ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, and Daesh) has been losing ground where its core base of support lies, according to defence analysts at the IHS Conflict Monitor.
IHS estimates that ISIS has lost 14% of its territory since January of this year. Some of the areas that have been retaken from ISIS were crucial to the group’s operations — including the Syrian border-crossing town of Tal Abyad, which connected ISIS’ de-facto capital of Raqqa with Turkey.
ISIS also lost a stretch of highway that connected Raqqa to its largest Iraqi holding, the city of Mosul.
In Iraq, the group lost Tikrit and the Baiji oil refinery. But though the Iraqi forces were successful in retaking Tikrit, it’s been a struggle for them to allow displaced locals to return to their homes.
Although ISIS lost some significant territory this year, the group also made some significant gains. ISIS seized the Iraqi city of Ramadi and the Syrian city of Palmyra in a “near-simultaneous offensive” in May, IHS notes. But these gains came at the expense of ISIS’ territory in northern Syria, much of which was lost to Kurdish fighters. ISIS left those areas less-protected as they redeployed fighters to Ramadi and Palmyra.
“This indicates that the Islamic State was overstretched, and also that holding Kurdish territory is considered to be of lesser importance than expelling the Syrian and Iraqi governments from traditionally Sunni lands” like Ramadi, senior IHS Middle East analyst Columb Strack wrote.
Here’s a map of where ISIS has lost territory this year:
IHS used open source intelligence, including social media and sources inside the countries, to create its map.