ISIS has lost nearly half the area it once claimed in Iraq: Pentagon

 Iraqi security forces lowering an Islamic State flag, west of Ramadi, on March 9.
Iraqi security forces lowering an Islamic State flag, west of Ramadi, on March 9.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Islamic State (ISIS) group has continued losing control over territory across Iraq and Syria, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday (May 16), including almost half of what it had once held in Iraq.

The Defence Department had previously estimated that ISIS fighters had lost control of about 40 per cent of the territory they claimed in Iraq and about 10 per cent of the land they held in Syria.

Those tallies had gone up in recent weeks, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.

"The number right now in Iraq is about 45 per cent of the territory they once held has been recovered," Mr Cook said.

"The number in Syria is anywhere between 16 and 20 per cent."

ISIS extremists stormed across large parts of Iraq and Syria in early 2014, meeting little resistance from Iraqi security forces and exploiting the chaos in civil-war-torn Syria.

Since August 2014, the United States has led an international coalition fighting back against ISIS, using a combination of air strikes and training and equipping local partners.

ISIS fighters have lost control of Ramadi and Heet in Iraq, but still control other important cities including Mosul and Fallujah.

In Syria, the group maintains control of Raqa, the capital of their so-called caliphate.