Iraqi forces are advancing toward the city of Mosul in a long-awaited offensive to drive Islamic State militants from their main stronghold in the country.  The group was known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria when it pushed into northern Iraq and seized Mosul in June 2014. By late that month, it had changed its name and declared a caliphate — a state under Islamic law — in territories it had seized in Syria and Iraq. The Islamic State continued to acquire land in Iraq until the end of 2015, when opposing forces started pushing the militants out of the cities. Mosul is the last large city held by the Islamic State in Iraq.  

2014

2015

2016

Tikrit

Retaken

March 31, 2015

Fell to ISIS

June 12, 2014

Ramadi

Dec. 27, 2015

May 17, 2015

Fallujah

Jan. 3, 2014

June 26, 2016

Mosul

June 10, 2014

Battle began

Oct. 16, 2016

2014

2015

2016

Tikrit

Retaken

March 31, 2015

Fell to ISIS

June 12, 2014

Ramadi

Dec. 27, 2015

May 17, 2015

Fallujah

Jan. 3, 2014

June 26, 2016

Mosul

June 10, 2014

Battle began

Oct. 16, 2016

The current situation

The battle against the Islamic State in Iraq includes the Iraqi army, Kurdish forces, Shiite militias, Sunni tribal fighters and the U.S.-led coalition.  

[ As Iraqi forces push toward Mosul, hundreds of thousands of people may flee]

Assad regime

Kurdish groups

Iraqi government

Sunni insurgents

Islamic State

2

1

3

4

SYRIA

Damascus

Baghdad

5

IRAQ

200 MILES

Opposition groups, backed by Turkish artillery, are advancing on Islamic State-held Dabiq.

Reports of additional Turkish troop and weaponry deployments along the Iraqi border to protect against crossing Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militias.

All eyes are on the operation that began on Oct. 16 to retake the largest city in Iraq still held by the Islamic State.

An estimated 2,000 Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias have redeployed from Syria to areas around Mosul and Hawija.

The Islamic State, while driven out of central Iraq, continues to target Shiite populations with suicide attacks in the Baghdad area.

1

2

3

4

5

Iraqi government

Assad regime

Islamic State

Sunni insurgents

Kurdish groups

TURKEY

2

1

Dabiq

IRAN

Manbij

3

Mosul

Aleppo

Irbil

Raqqa

Kirkuk

4

Deir al-Zour

Hawija

Hama

SYRIA

IRAQ

Homs

Tikrit

LEB.

Damascus

Baghdad

Ramadi

Fallujah

Rutbah

5

JOR.

Opposition groups, backed by Turkish artillery, are advancing on Islamic State-held Dabiq.

Reports of additional Turkish troop and weaponry deployments along the Iraqi border to protect against crossing Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militias.

All eyes are on the operation that began on Oct. 16 to retake the largest city in Iraq still held by the Islamic State.

An estimated 2,000 Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias have redeployed from Syria to areas around Mosul and Hawija.

The Islamic State, while driven out of central Iraq, continues to target Shiite populations with suicide attacks in the Baghdad area.

Diwaniyah

1

2

3

100 MILES

4

5

Reports of additional Turkish troop and weaponry deployments along the Iraqi border to protect against crossing Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militias.

Opposition groups, backed by Turkish artillery, are advancing on Islamic State-held Dabiq.

TURKEY

Dabiq

Manbij

All eyes are on the operation that began on Oct. 16 to retake the largest city in Iraq still held by the Islamic State.

Mosul

Med.

Sea

Irbil

Aleppo

Raqqa

Kirkuk

Hawija

Deir al-Zour

Hama

SYRIA

IRAQ

An estimated 2,000 Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias have redeployed from Syria to areas around Mosul and Hawija.

Homs

Tikrit

LEB.

Baghdad

Damascus

Ramadi

Fallujah

Rutbah

IRAN

The Islamic State, while driven out of central Iraq, continues to target Shiite populations with suicide attacks in the Baghdad area.

JORDAN

Diwaniyah

Assad regime

Islamic State

Sunni insurgents

Kurdish groups

Iraqi government

 

100 MILES

Basra

The U.S. presence in northern Iraq

The Mosul campaign began months ago with “shaping operations” in the Tigris Valley as newer Iraqi army units tested their mettle in clearing out villages south of the city. Those operations came to a close with the units seizing Qayyarah.

U.S. forces are manning artillery, acting as advisers to Iraqi and Kurdish forces, and helping call in airstrikes. U.S. Special Operations forces are also playing a role, operating alongside the Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi Special Operations forces. U.S. and coalition aircraft are on-call to provide support.

According to airwars.org, a site that monitors international airstrikes in the region, there have been more than 15,000 coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since late 2014.

Coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria

as part of Operation Inherent Resolve

50

air strikes

25

2016

2015

Coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve

50

air strikes

25

0

A

A

A

A

D

J

M

J

J

S

D

J

M

J

J

S

F

M

O

N

F

M

O

2015

’14

2016

Kobane

Mosul

Aleppo

NINEVEH

Raqqa

Kirkuk

Ramadi

 

Damascus

ANBAR

Baghdad

Approximate

strike areas

Density of U.S. coalition

airstrikes since August 2014

Most

Least

Kobane

Mosul

Aleppo

NINEVEH

Raqqa

Kirkuk

Approximate

strike areas

Damascus

Ramadi

 

Baghdad

ANBAR

Density of U.S. coalition

airstrikes since August 2014

Most

Least

Russia in Syria

Russia has supported the Syrian government with airstrikes since September 2015. Although Russia says it is targeting the Islamic State, many of its strikes have have been in areas held by rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia is currently moving ships into the region and establishing missile defense systems.

Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russia speaks, in front of a map of the Aleppo area in Syria at a briefing in Moscow on Oct. 19. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

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