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The rise and fall of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

Islamic State faces territorial defeat as US-backed Syrian forces attack its final, besieged enclave near the Iraqi border. Here is the timeline of the lightning rise, cruel reign and gradual fall of Islamic State.

From Al-Qaeda to Islamic State

From 2004 to 2011, in the chaos following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, an al-Qaeda offshoot sets up there, changing its name in 2006 to Islamic State in Iraq.

(Photograph:AFP)

'Syrian subsidiary setup'

In 2011, After Syria's crisis begins, the group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sends operatives there to set up a Syrian subsidiary. Baghdadi follows in 2013, breaking with al Qaeda and renaming his group 'The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant'.

(Photograph:AFP)

'A caliphate declaration'

In 2014, Islamic State's sudden success starts with the seizure of Fallujah in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria at the turn of the year. The jihadists take Mosul and Tikrit in June and overrun the border with Syria. At Mosul's great Mosque, Baghdadi renames the group Islamic State (IS) and declares a caliphate.

So begins a reign of terror. In Iraq, IS slaughters thousands of Yazidis in Sinjar and forces more than 7,000 women and girls into sexual slavery. In Syria, it massacres hundreds of members of the Sheitaat tribe. IS beheads Western hostages in grotesquely choreographed films.

In September, the United States builds a coalition against IS and starts air strikes to stop its momentum, helping the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia turn the militants back from Kobani on the border with Turkey.

(Photograph:AFP)

'A bloody start to a wave of attacks'

In 2015, Militants in Paris attack a satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo in which 12 were reportedly killed and 11 were injured, and a kosher supermarket where a terrorist held 19 hostages, of whom he murdered 4 Jews, marked the bloody start to a wave of attacks that IS claimed around the world.

Militants in Libya behead Christians and pledge allegiance to IS, followed by groups in other countries, but they stay operationally independent.

In May that year, IS took Ramadi in Iraq and the ancient desert town of Palmyra in Syria, but by the end of the year it is on the back foot in both countries.

(Photograph:AFP)

Turkey launches offensive into Syria

In 2016, Iraq takes back Fallujah in June, the first town IS had captured during its initial blaze of success. In August, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG, takes Manbij in Syria.

Alarmed by the Kurdish advances near its own frontier, Turkey launches an offensive into Syria against both IS and the YPG. Enmity between Turkey and the YPG will continue to complicate operations against IS.

(Photograph:AFP)

'Year of catastrophic defeats'

In 2017, Islamic State suffers a year of catastrophic defeats. In June it loses Mosul to Iraqi forces after months of fighting and Baghdad declares the end of the caliphate. In September the Syrian army races eastwards backed by Russia and Iran to relieve Deir al-Zor and re-extend state control at the Euphrates River. In October, the SDF drives IS from Raqqa.

(Photograph:AFP)

US declares 'victory' over IS

In 2018, the Syrian government retakes IS enclaves in Yarmouk, south of Damascus, and on the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The SDF advances further down the Euphrates and Iraqi forces take the rest of the border region.

The United States declared victory over the Islamic State group in Syria, and announced to withdraw troops from the war-torn country.

 

(Photograph:AFP)

'Last caliphate eliminated'

2019: IS fighters are defeated at their last enclave on the Euphrates at the village of Baghouz, the SDF says. The SDF declares the "caliphate" eliminated.

(Photograph:AFP)