Five reasons to stay out of iraq

At its peak, the Islamic State, also called ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh, controlled about a third of Syria and 40 percent of Iraq. By December 2017, it had lost 95 percent of its land, including Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, and Raqqa, the city it called its capital in northern Syria. Here is a timeline of the Islamic State’s rise, expansion, and fall.

The Islamic State, also called ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh, grew out of what was left of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), a branch of al Qaeda that Abu Musab al Zarqawi started in 2004. After the U.S. sent more troops to Iraq in 2007, it was forgotten for a few years. But it began to reemerge in 2011. In the years that followed, it used the growing chaos in Iraq and Syria to carry out attacks and grow its ranks.

In 2013, the group changed its name to ISIS, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. In June 2014, ISIS went on the attack in Mosul and Tikrit. On June 29, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi announced the creation of a caliphate from Aleppo, Syria, to Diyala, Iraq. He also changed the name of the group to the Islamic State.

On August 7, 2014, a coalition led by the United States started bombing ISIS from the air in Iraq. The next month, the campaign moved to Syria. The US called the campaign “Operation Inherent Resolve” on October 15. The United States did more than 8,000 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria over the next year. ISIS lost a lot of ground along the border between Syria and Turkey, and by the end of 2015, Iraqi forces had made progress in retaking Ramadi. But in Syria, ISIS made gains near Aleppo and still strongly controlled Raqqa and other strongholds.

ISIS grew in 2015, and now has branches in at least eight other countries. Its branches, supporters, and affiliates are carrying out more and more attacks outside of what it calls its “caliphate.” In October, 224 people died when ISIS’s Egypt branch bombed a Russian plane. In coordinated attacks in Paris on November 13, 130 people were killed and more than 300 were hurt. And in June 2016, a gunman who said he was with ISIS killed at least 40 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

By December 2017, the ISIS caliphate had lost 95 percent of its land, including Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, and Raqqa, the city it called its capital in northern Syria. On December 9, 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that the Islamic State had been defeated. But ISIS was still planning and carrying out attacks all over the world, including in New York City.

In 2018, the focus of the fight against ISIS moved to eastern Syria, where the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of Syrian Kurds and Arabs backed by the U.S., slowly took over key ISIS positions. In November 2018, Turkish attacks on Kurdish positions took the SDF’s attention away from its offensive for a short time. The SDF took over the town of Hajin on December 14. When Hajin fell, ISIS was left with only a few villages near the Iraqi border along the Euphrates River.

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