Thousands died fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, U.S. says

Syrian and Iraqi forces, aided by the air power of a U.S.-led coalition, have evicted Islamic State from more than 95 percent of the territory it held in the two countries, in combat that killed thousands of their fighters, according to U.S. Central Command.

 The successes have liberated almost 7 million Syrians and Iraqis living in former militant strongholds including Raqqa and Mosul, the command said Thursday in an analysis of a campaign which began in 2014.
 Fighting in Iraq killed between 1,200 and 1,500 security personnel, wounding about 8,000 others, it said. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces who captured Raqqa this month lost about 1,100 troops, while 3,900 more were injured.

The coalition has backed local forces on the ground with a total of 27,566 airstrikes in the three years from September 2014, according to the command’s statement. During this period, there were 1,266 reports of possible civilian casualties, it said, 194 of which were found to be “credible.” At least 786 civilians “have been unintentionally killed by coalition strikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve” with many reports still being assessed.

 The coalition of about 60 nations was built after Islamic State seized swaths of Syria and Iraq in offensives in mid-2014. Its assistance consisted mostly of airstrikes coupled with efforts to strengthen local forces.

Islamic State is fighting its last major battle in Syria in eastern Deir Ezzor province. Iraqi forces launched an offensive this week to liberate the border town of al-Qaim, the final Islamic State stronghold in the country. A separate statement by U.S central command said about 1,500 militants are in the town’s immediate vicinity.

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