Islamic State lose only one per cent of captured territory in Iraq after airstrikes

Female fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units outside the Iraqi town of Snoun, close to the Syrian border (Reuters)

Islamic State jihadists have lost only a tiny fraction of captured territory in Iraq after five months of US-led air strikes, the Pentagon said Friday.

Kurdish peshmerga forces and Iraqi government troops have retaken 270 square miles of ground mostly in northern Iraq, but the IS group still holds 30,000 square miles, spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

That amounts to roughly one percent of IS-held territory changing hands since the US launched air raids in Iraq on August 8.

Kirby acknowledged that not much ground had been gained back so far but said that the air strikes had halted the momentum of the jihadists and bought time for the training of Baghdad government forces.

“I think we all recognise that it’s a small percentage of the total right now. But we’re only six, seven months into this thing, too,” he said.

The US military has made clear the campaign against IS “is going to take time, to uproot these guys and to really get at them,” he said…