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The Islamic State Group in Iraq: Key Dates




Iraq said Thursday that its forces had retaken the northern city of Tal Afar and fully recaptured the province of Nineveh from the Islamic State group.
Here are some key dates in the history of IS in Iraq:
- Jihadist breakthrough -
January 4, 2014: Iraq loses its first key town since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, as fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and allies capture Fallujah and parts of Ramadi, west of Baghdad.
The vast Anbar province that surrounds the two towns is predominantly Sunni Muslim and fiercely resisted U.S. troops when they occupied Iraq.
- Mosul captured -
June 10, 2014: ISIL launches a lightning offensive in northwestern Iraq, seizing second city Mosul and 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 holds in Iraq and Syria, rebranding itself the Islamic State and declaring its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "caliph".
- U.S.-led coalition -
August 8, 2014: U.S. warplanes strike IS positions in northern Iraq in response to an appeal from the Iraqi government.
September 23: The U.S. and Arab allies launch air strikes on IS in Syria after an international coalition is formed to defeat the group.
- Early IS losses in Iraq -
March 31, 2015: Iraq announces the "liberation" of Tikrit, 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Baghdad, after nearly 10 months under IS rule.
February 9, 2016: Sunni-majority Ramadi, capital of Anbar province, is recaptured from the jihadists who overran it the previous May.
June 26: Iraqi forces recapture Fallujah after two and a half years outside government control.
- The battle for Mosul -
October 17, 2016: Some 30,000 Iraqi soldiers, police and special forces members, backed by U.S.-led air support, launch a vast operation to retake Mosul.
Three months later they retake the city's east and turn their attention to the west.
June 29, 2017: Iraq announces it has recaptured the iconic Grand Mosque of al-Nouri in Mosul's Old City, where Baghdadi made his first public appearance three years earlier, calling it a sign of IS' impending defeat.
July 9: Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declares victory in the "liberated" city of Mosul, capping nine months of fighting.
- The battle for Tal Afar -
August 20, 2017: Iraq announces the start of an assault on Tal Afar , 70 kilometers (40 miles) west of Mosul, the last jihadist bastion in northern Iraq.
August 22: Iraqi forces take control of the first three districts of the city, facing an onslaught of suicide and car bomb attacks.
August 26: Iraqi forces say they have recaptured the city center and raised the country's flag atop its Ottoman-era citadel.
August 27: All 29 districts of Tal Afar are retaken but fighting continues in an area just north of the city where jihadist fighters fled.
August 31: Abadi's office says Tal Afar and the surrounding area are fully retaken, declaring that "the province of Nineveh is now entirely in the hands of our forces."

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