FOX NEWS/AP – SARAH EL DEEB, SUSANNAH GEORGE/PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
With new losses Friday, the Islamic State group has been driven from more than 96 percent of the large parts of Iraq and Syria it once held, crushing its goal of establishing a “caliphate” in the region.
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military announced the capture of the eastern Syrian city of Deir el-Zour, while Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory in retaking the town of Qaim on the border, the militants’ last significant urban area in Iraq.
The militants are left fighting for a final stretch inside Syria and desert regions along the Iraq-Syria border. Three years ago, they had defiantly erased that line, knocking down berms marking the frontier.
Since then, they have lost infrastructure, resources, supply routes, control over about 8 million people and — most importantly — administration of a contiguous territory. The extremist group may still prove to be a major challenge for months as it turns to a clandestine insurgency.