ISIS's shrinking caliphate down to 2000 fighters in Raqqa and loss of most of its territory
Radio Free Europe:
A senior U.S. official says about 2,000 Islamic State (IS) militants are battling for survival in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the extremists’ last stronghold in the north of the country.The data on the fighters should be helpful for law enforcement in Europe and the Middle East to run down the remnants that may escape from the current annihilation attacks underway. I suspect the fight in Raqqa will go on for sometime, as well as the chase for the leadership that may have fled.
Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy for the international coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, said a U.S.-led Arab-Kurdish alliance has captured about 45 percent of the city from the militants and is poised to move farther.
Separately, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on August 5 said Syrian government forces have captured Al-Sukhna, the last major town in Homs Province, from IS fighters as the military attempts to drive the militants out of the country's eastern regions.
Both developments are further signs of the diminishing fortunes of the militant group, which captured Raqqa, along with wide swathes of Syrian and Iraqi territory, from government forces in 2014 and declared an Islamic "caliphate" over land it controlled.
Offensives by U.S.-backed forces in recent months have reduced IS terrority substantially and led to the liberation of Mosul, the group’s self-declared capital in Iraq.
McGurk said the extremists have lost 58% of the territory they held in Syria at their peak and 78% of what they controlled in Iraq.
McGurk said the coalition has created a database of nearly 19,000 names of IS fighters by using cellphones, address books, and other documents retrieved on battlefields.
The information is being shared with Interpol, the international police agency, he said.