The IS Group in Iraq, Syria in Key Dates

The Islamic State group has been driven from most of the swathes of territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, now reduced to pockets of the area that once formed its "caliphate."

Here is a look at the jihadist group's emergence, its swift advances and subsequent defeats.

- ISIL created -

- April 2013: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, head of the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), announces in an online recording the creation of a group called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

In early 2014 al-Qaida disavows ISIL completely.

- Key cities fall -

- January 2014: ISIL conquers Syria's northern city of Raqa after fierce fighting with rival jihadists. It is the first provincial capital to fall from regime control and becomes the jihadists' main stronghold.

In June they launch a rampage across northwestern Iraq, seizing second city Mosul and a belt of territory bordering the autonomous Kurdistan region. Tens of thousands of Christians and Yazidis, a religious minority, flee.

- 'Caliphate' proclaimed -

- June 2014: ISIL declares a "caliphate" in territories it has seized in Iraq and Syria. It rebrands itself the Islamic State (IS) and declares its chief Baghdadi "caliph" and "leader of Muslims everywhere".

A week later Baghdadi appears for the first time in a video posted on jihadist sites and calls on all Muslims to obey him.

- Coalition formed -

- August 2014: United States warplanes strike IS positions in northern Iraq in response to an appeal from the Iraqi government. It is Washington's first direct military engagement in the country since it withdrew its troops in 2011. 

In September an international coalition is formed to defeat the emboldened jihadist group. The U.S. and Arab allies launch air strikes on IS positions in Syria.

- IS losses in Iraq -

- March 2015: Iraq announces the "liberation" of Tikrit, north of Baghdad. IS had controlled Tikrit for nearly 10 months. The operation involves Iran, via Shiite militias, and Washington, which heads the anti-jihadist coalition.

- February 2016: Iraqi forces capture Ramadi, overrun by jihadists the previous May. In June, they retake Fallujah, which spent two and a half years out of their control.

- July 2017: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announces the "liberation" of Mosul, the last urban stronghold of IS in Iraq, after a nearly nine-month offensive spearheaded a 30,000-strong federal force backed by coalition air strikes.

- October 2017: Abadi announces the recapture of Hawija, one of the few remaining IS holdouts.

- November 2017: Iraqi forces enter Al-Qaim, the main town in the group's last bastion in the country.

- IS defeats in Syria -

- January 2015: IS is driven from the Syrian border town of Kobane after more than four months of fighting led by Kurdish forces backed by coalition air strikes.

- August 2016: The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition of Arab and Kurdish fighters backed by US air strikes recaptures the northern town of Manbij.

Turkish troops and Syrian rebels retake the border town of Jarabulus.

- February 2017: The Turkish army announces it has taken full control of Al-Bab, the IS last bastion in Aleppo province.

- March 2017: Syrian troops backed by Russian jets complete the recapture of the historic city of Palmyra.

- August 2017: Syrian regime forces recapture Al-Sukhna, the last IS stronghold in Homs province and on the road to the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, where a government garrison has been under IS siege since early 2015.

- October 2017: The SDF announces the full recapture of Raqa after more than four months of fighting.

- November 2017: Syria's army seizes Deir Ezzor, driving the jihadists from the last major city where they had a presence.

Source: Agence France Presse

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