Beginning in early 2014, the Islamic State, a Sunni militant group commonly known as ISIS or simply IS, began making advances against Iraqi government interests and soon were gaining control of cities and infrastructure. Their goal is to establish a Muslim caliphate across Syria and Iraq. But as the militants sweep across the country -- imposing a strict version of Shari’a that includes extrajudicial killings and forced conversions -- the humanitarian crisis has worsened. So too has the threat to American interests, with Iraq losing control of at least four of its oil fields. On August 7, President Obama authorized air strikes against the militants and humanitarian aid drops for civilians fleeing from the clashes. This map is designed to be an up-to-date resource for those following the developments in Iraq by showing what parts of the country are under militant control and what parts are still held by Iraqi government forces.
The map, which will be regularly updated to reflect the dynamic situation on the ground, details each incident where a city, town, military outpost, or key point of infrastructure changed hands and which group is now in control of that city. In some cases, ongoing fighting or unclear and contradictory reporting makes designating a group in control impossible, so that location is marked as “contested.” Each point on the map was scaled according to the square mileage of the city. All information was gathered from reputable news agencies and, where possible, at least two news sources are cited.
Research for this map was conducted by Helena Scott, a student at Exeter College (UK), and Emily Schneider, a research associate at New America. The site was designed and produced by Nick McClellan. The project is managed by Peter Bergen.