The rise and fall of ISIS in Iraq and Syria

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (centre) announces victory over Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq, on July 10, 2017.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (centre) announces victory over Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq, on July 10, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS


2004: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian leading a militant insurgency against US forces in Iraq, pledges allegiance to Osama bin Laden and forms Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

JUNE 2006: Zarqawi is killed in a US air strike and AQI joins other militant groups to form the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).

APRIL 2013: Former US detainee Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, now the AQI leader, says that his group will now be known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and fight for an Islamic state in Syria. Al-Qaeda disavows ISIL in early 2014.

JANUARY 2014: ISIL conquers Raqqa in northern Syria, turning the city into its stronghold. Raqqa becomes the scene of some of the group's worst atrocities and a hub for planning attacks overseas.

JUNE 2014: ISIL seizes Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul before sweeping across much of the Sunni Arab heartland. The group declares a "caliphate" across the territory it has seized in Iraq and Syria, and rebrands itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

AUGUST 2014: US warplanes strike ISIS positions in northern Iraq in response to an appeal from Baghdad. An international coalition is also formed to defeat the group.


MARCH 2015: Iraq announces the "liberation" of Tikrit after 10 months of ISIS control.

FEBRUARY 2016: The Sunni town of Ramadi, capital of Anbar province, is recaptured.

JUNE 2016: Iraqi forces recapture Fallujah after 2 1/2 years.

JULY 2017: Iraq announces it has recaptured Mosul after 10 months of fighting backed by US air support.

OCTOBER: Iraqi forces claim victory in Hawija, ISIS' last major urban stronghold in Iraq.

NOVEMBER: Iraqi forces capture the border town of Rawa, the last remaining town under ISIS control.


JANUARY 2015: ISIS is driven out of the Syrian border town of Kobane after more than four months of fighting.

AUGUST 2016: The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition of Arab and Kurdish fighters backed by US air strikes recaptures northern town of Manbij.

MARCH 2017: Syrian troops backed by Russian jets recapture the historic city of Palmyra .

OCTOBER: SDF captures the former ISIS capital of Raqqa following a year-long operation.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 19, 2017, with the headline 'The rise and fall of isis in Iraq and Syria'. Print Edition | Subscribe