Islamic State Lost 22 Percent of Territory in Past 15 Months, IHS Says

Analysis from the IHS Conflict Monitor shows tide of war turning against group


Wednesday, March 16, 2016 11:10 am EDT


"These financial difficulties have been exacerbated further by both US-led Coalition and Russian airstrikes on the group’s sources of oil revenue since late 2015."

LONDON, UK (16 March, 2016) – IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS), the leading global source of critical information and insight, today announced findings from its analysis of territory controlled by insurgent groups in Syria and Iraq.

Between 1 January and 15 December 2015, the Islamic State lost control of 14 percent of its territory. New analysis carried out by the team that runs the IHS Conflict Monitor indicates that in the last three months, the Islamic State has lost a further 8 percent of its territory.

“In 2016, we have seen major losses in the north-east extend south towards Raqqa and Deir al-Zour as the mixed-sectarian Kurdish and Sunni Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advance under the cover of US and Russian airstrikes,” said Columb Strack, senior analyst at IHS. “The Syrian government has also made gains in the West. They now stand just five kilometres outside the ancient city of Palmyra, which was overrun by the jihadists in mid-2015.”

The Islamic State’s last major territorial advance into Palmyra and Ramadi in June 2015 came at the expense of losing large swathes of territory in northern Syria. These included the strategically important Tal Abyad border crossing, which was the group’s main crossing point between Turkey and the so-called Caliphate’s de-facto capital city of Raqqa.

“Following the loss of Tal Abyad, IHS began picking up indicators that the Islamic State was struggling financially, which included various tax hikes, increases in the cost of state-run services, and significant cuts of up to 50 percent in the salaries paid to Islamic State fighters,” Strack said. “These financial difficulties have been exacerbated further by both US-led Coalition and Russian airstrikes on the group’s sources of oil revenue since late 2015.”

The loss of access points to the Turkish border, and heightened border security on the Turkish side, have significantly reduced the flow of goods and potential recruits into the Caliphate. Although local smuggling channels still operate, the risk of detection, and therefore the associated cost have skyrocketed.

“The Islamic State is increasingly isolated, and being perceived as in decline,” Strack said. “This plays into the hands of its main rival, al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra, which despite sharing the same ultimate goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate, has criticised the Islamic State for prematurely declaring it. Isolation and further military defeats will make it harder for the Islamic State to attract new recruits to Syria from the pool of foreign jihadis.”

About the IHS Conflict Monitor

To learn more about the IHS Conflict Monitor, our intelligence collection and IHS, check out

The IHS Conflict Monitor records about 1,000 manually geocoded indicator events for Iraq and Syria every week from social media and other open sources, systematically rated for reliability. It is a weekly deliverable that includes analysis, data and maps.

The Conflict Monitor includes regular analysis of the data providing unparalleled insight into the structure, operations, strengths and vulnerabilities of the Islamic State. The dataset reaches back to January 2014, delivering unique data insights into the tactics, activity and capabilities of armed actors, as well as mapping the progression of the conflict in unprecedented detail.


About IHS Jane’s (

IHS Jane’s, part of IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS), is the leading open source information provider and conference organiser on defence, international risk and national security to governments, militaries, industries and academia around the globe. IHS is the leading source of insight, analytics and expertise in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS is committed to sustainable, profitable growth and employs nearly 9,000 people in 33 countries around the world.

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Multimedia Files:

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Islamic State Gains and Losses in 2015
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Islamic State territorial gains and losses from 1 Jan 2015 to 15 March 2016