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Islamic State Key dates of the terrorist group in Iraq, Syria

Al-Qaeda in Iraq chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi says Al-Nusra Front, a jihadist group battling the Syrian regime...

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A member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces removes an Islamic State group flag in the town of Tabqa, near Syria's Raqa, on April 30, 2017 play

A member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces removes an Islamic State group flag in the town of Tabqa, near Syria's Raqa, on April 30, 2017

(AFP/File)

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory Sunday in the "liberated" city of Mosul, the Islamic State group's last urban stronghold in Iraq, as the IS Syria bastion Raqa is surrounded.

ISIL created

- April 9, 2013: Al-Qaeda in Iraq chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi says Al-Nusra Front, a jihadist group battling the Syrian regime, belongs to his Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and is fighting for an Islamic state in Syria.

A day later, Al-Nusra pledges allegiance to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, distancing itself from Baghdadi. In early 2014 Al-Qaeda disavows ISIL completely.

Syria's Raqa falls

- January 14, 2014: ISIL conquers Raqa city in northern Syria after fierce fighting with rival rebels. Raqa, the first provincial capital to fall entirely from regime hands, becomes the jihadists' Syrian stronghold.

Iraq's Mosul captured

- June 10, 2014: ISIL launches a lightning offensive in northwestern Iraq, seizing second city Mosul and sweeping across Sunni Arab areas bordering the autonomous Kurdistan region. Tens of thousands of Christians and Yazidis flee.

'Caliphate' proclaimed

- June 29, 2014: ISIL declares a "caliphate" in territories it has seized in Iraq and Syria.

It rebrands itself the Islamic State (IS) and declares its chief Baghdadi "caliph" and "leader for Muslims everywhere".

US-led coalition

- August 8, 2014: US warplanes strike IS positions in northern Iraq in response to an appeal from the Iraqi government. In September an international coalition is formed to defeat the group.

- September 23: The US and Arab allies launch air strikes on IS in Syria.

IS losses in Iraq

- March 31, 2015: Iraq announces the "liberation" of Tikrit, 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of Baghdad. IS had controlled Tikrit for nearly 10 months.

- February 9, 2016: Sunni-majority Ramadi, capital of Anbar province, is recaptured from the jihadists, who had overrun it the previous May.

- June 26: Iraqi forces recapture Fallujah after two and a half years beyond government control.

IS defeats in Syria

- January 26, 2015: IS is driven out of the Syrian border town of Kobane after more than four months of fighting led by Kurdish forces backed by coalition air strikes.

- August 6, 2016: The Syrian Democratic Forces coalition of Arab and Kurdish fighters backed by US air strikes recaptures the northern Syrian town of Manbij.

- August 24: Turkish troops and Syrian rebels retake the border town of Jarabulus, during Operation Euphrates Shield, which also targets Kurdish militia.

- February 24, 2017: The Turkish army announces that it has taken full control of the northern town of Al-Bab, the IS last bastion in Aleppo province.

- March 2: Syrian troops backed by Russian jets complete the recapture of the historic city of Palmyra from the IS. The city had previously changed hands several times.

The battle for Mosul

- October 17, 2016: Some 30,000 Iraqi forces backed by US-led air support launch a vast operation to retake Mosul.

Three months later they retake the east side of the city and turn their attention to the west.

June 29:, 2017 Iraq announces it has recaptured the iconic Nuri mosque in Mosul's Old City. The Iraqi premier calls it a sign of IS's impending defeat.

June 30: A senior Iraqi commander says Iraq will declare the liberation of Mosul in the "next few days."

July 9: Abadi declares victory in the "liberated" city of Mosul after days of fierce fighting during which Iraqi forces battled to retake the last two IS-held areas near the Tigris River.

The battle for Raqa

- November 5, 2016: The SDF launches an operation to capture Raqa.

- June 6, 2017: The SDF enters Raqa, seizing a quarter of the city and cutting off the last IS escape route by the end of the month.

- July 2: SDF fighters pierce Raqa from the south for the first time.

- July 4: US Central Command says SDF forces have penetrated the wall surrounding Raqa's Old City where a few hundred diehard jihadists are making a last stand.

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