Less than 1,000 Islamic State fighters are estimated to remain in a border area between Iraq and Syria where a U.S.-led alliance is fighting the extremist militia, the coalition said on Wednesday.
Most of the remaining militants are being tracked in the desert regions in eastern Syria and western Iraq, the anti-Islamic alliance said in an email statement to dpa on Wednesday.
Baghdad has announced that the Islamic State had been routed in Iraq, completing a U.S.-backed campaign of three years.
In recent months, Islamic State has lost ground in Syria in the face of separate operations by Russian-backed government forces and a Syrian Kurd-led alliance supported by the U.S.
“The figure of less than 1,000 excludes areas in western Syria under regime control,” the U.S.-led coalition said.
The latest estimate comes amid reports that dozens of Islamic State fighters were able to flee Iraq and Syria.
According to the U.S.-led alliance, the “overwhelming majority of terrorists” who once fought in both countries are now dead or in captivity.’’
It estimated that more than 106,800 square kilometres, or more than 98 per cent of the territory seized by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, have been liberated.
“Much fighting remains to defeat the residual pockets of terrorists, and much hard work to ensure ISIS’ lasting defeat in the region,” the alliance added.
In late 2014, the U.S. launched separate multinational campaigns against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria where the extremist militia seized large chunks of territory.