Iraqi forces have retaken about a quarter of the territory ISIS seized last year, according to an encouraging Pentagon analysis—some 5,000 to 6,500 square miles in the country's north and center, reports USA Today. "[ISIS] is no longer the dominant force in roughly 25% to 30% of the populated areas of Iraq where it once had complete freedom of movement," a Pentagon rep said yesterday, per the Hill.
It's not all good news out of the region, however. The ground retaken has come with the help of Iran-backed militias, assistance the US has been trying to wean Iraq off of with limited success. "The Iranians are willing to provide assistance without strings," a national security analyst tells USA Today. "The Iranians have some very big carrots at their disposal." And in Syria, the Pentagon rep notes that it's been one step forward, two steps back there: With the exception of Kobani, ISIS has held the areas it usurped and even gained new ones near Damascus, per the Hill. (Read more ISIS stories.)