Iraq says Islamic State has lost most of the land it seized

FILE - In this Friday, March 24, 2017, file photo, civil protection rescue teams work on the debris of a destroyed house to recover the body of people killed during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants on the western side of Mosul, Iraq. Iraqis in the northern city of Mosul are still burying their dead after a U.S. airstrike allegedly killed more than 100 people last week, and rights groups are expressing alarm over a recent spike in civilian deaths. Iraqi officials have defended their conduct in the war against the Islamic State group, and their advice to civilians to shelter in place as U.S.-backed forces seek to drive the extremists from their last urban stronghold in the country. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Iraqi military says the Islamic State group has lost more than three-fourths of the territory it seized when it swept across the country in the summer of 2014.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, a military spokesman, says the extremist group currently controls less than 30,000 square kilometers (12,000 sq. miles) in Iraq, or 6.8 percent of the country’s territory, down from more than 40 percent at its height.

The extremists have suffered a string of defeats over the past year in both Iraq and Syria, and were driven out of the eastern half of Mosul, Iraq’s largest city, in January.

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are currently battling the militants in the more densely populated western Mosul. Rasool says more than half of western Mosul has been retaken from the militants.