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 Raqqa falls — Jan 14, 2014
ISIL conquers Raqqa city in northern Syria after fierce fighting with rival rebels. Raqqa, 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 —Aug 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. Sept 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 north of Baghdad. IS had controlled Tikrit for nearly 10 months.
Feb 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
Jan 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.
Aug 6, 2016: The Syrian Democratic Forces, coalition of Arab and Kurdish fighters backed by US, air strikes recaptures the northern Syrian town of Manbij.
Aug 24: Turkish troops and Syrian rebels retake the border town of Jarabulus, during Operation Euphrates Shield, which also targets Kurdish militia.
Feb 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
Oct 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 River Tigris.
The battle for Raqqa
Nov 5, 2016: The SDF launches an operation to capture Raqa.
June 6, 2017: The SDF enters Raqqa, 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 Raqqa from the south for the first time.
July 4: US Central Command says SDF forces have penetrated the wall surrounding Raqqa’s Old City where a few hundred diehard jihadists are making a last stand.
Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2017