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Daesh has lost 95% of territory: US coalition
November 17, 2017
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AMMAN: The Daesh militant group has lost 95 per cent of the cross-border territory it declared three years ago in Iraq and Syria, the US-led coalition fighting it has said.

“Since our coalition was formed in 2014, Daesh has lost 95 per cent of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria,” Washington’s envoy to the coalition, Brett McGurk, said late Wednesday after a meeting in Jordan.

“More than 7.5 million people have now been liberated from Daesh,” McGurk said in a statement, adding that the group’s finances are now “at their lowest levels to date.”

McGurk insisted that flows of foreign Daesh fighters into Syria have “nearly stopped,” and that militants are increasingly being picked up as they cross borders. “We are enhancing cooperation and border security, aviation security, law enforcement, financial sanctions, counter-messaging, and intelligence sharing to prevent Daesh from carrying out attacks in our homelands,” he said.

Separately, two Turkish soldiers were killed and one was wounded on Thursday in northern Iraq’s Avasin Basyan region by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, Turkey’s military said.

Separately, four militants were killed in the southeastern Turkish province of Tunceli, Dogan news agency said.

A Turkish energy delegation has met with Iraqi top oil officials in Baghdad to discuss issues including the resumption of Kirkuk oil exports via the Turkish port of Ceyhan, Iraq’s oil ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

“A high level Turkish energy delegation met with senior oil officials, including officials from state-run SOMO, to discuss ways to restart Kirkuk oil exports,” the statement said.

“The two parties discussed financial and technical issues which delay Kirkuk oil exports resumption. The talks are to be completed in Ankara,” the statement said.

Iraq needs at least three months to repair an old pipeline which was shipping Kirkuk crude to Ceyhan port in Turkey, SOMO has said.

The militant group swept across Syria and Iraq the same year, declaring a cross-border territory in territory roughly the size of Britain, attracting thousands of foreign fighters.

But several military offensives, including those backed by the US-led coalition, have since seen Daesh lose most areas it once controlled.

With the militants’ dreams of statehood lying in tatters following the battlefield defeats, Western attention is increasingly pivoting to trying to block foreign fighters from returning home to carry out attacks.

Iraqi oil officials accuse Kurdish authorities of not responding to requests made by the oil ministry to use the Kurdish pipeline to resume exports from Kirkuk.

Baghdad’s meeting was attended by senior officials from the Turkish energy ministry, state-owned energy company TPAO and Turkish pipeline operator Botas, according to the oil ministry.

Exports from oilfields in Kirkuk have been on hold since Iraqi government forces took control of them from the Kurds last month in retaliation for a Kurdish referendum on independence which was widely opposed by Turkey, Iran and Western powers.

A ceasefire between the Turkish state and PKK militants broke down in July 2015 and southeast Turkey subsequently saw some of the worst violence since the group launched its insurgency in 1984.

More than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed in the conflict. The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The main 600,000 bpd Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline had been offline since March 2014 following insurgent attacks.

Agencies
 

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