Iraqi and Syrian security forces, backed by the US-led coalition, are continuing to battle to reclaim cities held by Islamic State (Isis/Daesh). Progress, although slow, is being made in areas such as Fallujah in Iraq and Manbji in Syria, as troops continue close in on the militant group.

On 9 June, Isis claimed responsibility for two separate bombings in and around the Iraqi capital, resulting in the deaths of more than 22 people and wounding 70. The first attack saw a car, packed with explosives, blow up on a street in Baghdad al-Jadeeda (New Baghdad), an eastern district of the capital. It killed at least 15 people and wounded over 50. The second attack, also a car bomb, targeted a main army checkpoint in Taji, north of the capital, and killed seven soldiers and wounded more than 20 others.

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An Iraqi man checks the site of car bomb attack in the mostly Shiite neighbourhood of Baghdad al-Jadeeda in the Iraqi capitalAhmad al-Rubaye/ AFP
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People gather at the site of car bomb attack in Baghdad al-Jadeeda, an eastern district of the Iraqi capitalKhalid al Mousily/ Reuters
Baghdad car bomb
People inspect the site of car bomb attack in Baghdad al-JadeedaKhalid al Mousily/ Reuters

The Baghdad bombings come as Iraqi forces advance into Fallujah, one of Islamic State's strongholds. The campaign is proving to be one of the biggest battles ever fought against Daesh. Iraqi officials said the two bombings may be an attempt to distract Iraqi security forces' attention from the front lines.

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A member of the Iraqi security forces fires artillery during clashes with Islamic State militants near Fallujah, IraqAlaa Al-Marjani/ Reuters
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A member of the Iraqi pro-governement forces fires his weapon on a front line in the Albu Huwa area, south of Fallujah near the Euphrates river, IraqMoadh al-Dulaimi/ AFP
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Iraqi security forces personnel inspect a house south of Fallujah, IraqReuters

The structure of the Iraqi troops are complicated. Comprising of Shiite units, Iraqi National Police, police from Al Anbar Province and Iraqi counterterrorism forces, analysts have added that there is a lack of trust among them, and their different motivations. "They (The extremist fighters) have the will to die as the martyrs. And joint Iraqi forces, they don't have a military doctrine, especially in the war of Arabian areas," said Musa Qallab, a political analyst from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) told Reuters.

It will be difficult to retake Fallujah because the extremists have put up a last-ditch resistance, laying mines and digging tunnels to prevent the Iraqi troops from progressing. Isis captured Fallujah in January 2014, before taking over much of Iraq's north and west, declaring a caliphate several months later from Mosul.

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Yazidi fights aim their weapon during a deployment near the frontline of the fight against Islamic State militants in Nawaran near Mosul, IraqAhmed Jadallah/ Reuters
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An Iraqi Shi'ite fighter fires a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) during clashes with Islamic State militants on the outskirt of Fallujah, IraqReuters
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fighter from the Iraqi Shi'ite Badr Organisation holds his rifle in an underground tunnel built by Islamic State fighters on the outskirts of Fallujah, IraqThaier Al-Sudani/ Reuters
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Smoke rises after airstrikes from the US-led coalition against Islamic State militants in a village east of Mosul, IraqAzad Lashkari/ Reuters
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Iraqi security forces personnel walk with their weapons as they inspect a house south of Fallujah, IraqReuters

In Syria, cities such as Manbij and Al-Raqqa remain under Daesh rule, but US-backed forces fighting near the Syrian-Turkey border have said they have reached the militants' final main route, leading in and out of their stronghold area, the city of Manbij. This comes just one week into the campaign to push the militants out of their foothold along the frontier.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) were in firing range of the main road, leading west and that they were effectively in control of all highways into Manbij. "We have reached the road that links Manbij and Aleppo, from the west," Sharfan Darwish, spokesman for the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) allied Manbij Military Council, told Reuters.

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Smoke rises from Manbij city, Aleppo province, SyriaRodi Said/ Reuters
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Democratic Forces of Syria fighters gesture while riding a pick-up truck near al-Shadadi town, HasakaRodi Said/ Reuters
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A Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter stands near a woman looking out a doorway in a village, on the outskirts of Manbij city Aleppo province, SyriaRodi Said/ Reuters
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A fighter of the Syria Democratic Forces mans an anti-aircraft weapon in the southern rural area of Manbij, in Aleppo Governorate, SyriaRodi Said/ Reuters
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A man that fled Manbij city smokes a cigarette after arriving in the areas that Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance forces took over on the outskirts of Manbij city, Aleppo province, SyriaRodi Said/ Reuters

Manbij Military Council said that its forces have already cut Islamic State supply lines which lead north, east and south from the city. They say they are now close enough to Manbij itself to be able to fire on Islamic State militants. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the SDF were in firing range of the main road, leading west and that they were effectively in control of all highways into Manbij.

The Manbij Military Council confirmed this also, saying that they had already cut Isis supply lines leading north, east and south from the city, and were now close enough to Manbij itself to be able to fire on Islamic State militants.

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Manbij Military Council fighters stand at a checkout point overlooking rising smoke from Manbij city, Aleppo province, SyriaRodi Said/ Reuters
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Fighters from the Democratic Forces of Syria carry their weapons in Ghazila village after taking control of the town from Islamic State forces in the southern countryside of Hasaka, SyriaRodi Said/ Reuters
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A Belgian fighter from the Democratic Forces of Syria holds a cigarette in his mouth inside a military vehicle in Ghazila village after taking control of the town from Islamic State forces in the southern countryside of Hasaka, SyriaRodi Said/ Reuters
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Iraqi Kurdish fights sit at a site near the frontline of the fight against Islamic State militants in Nawaran near Mosul, IraqAhmed Jadallah/ Reuters
Yazidi women fighters
Yazidi fights ride a pickup truck during a deployment near the frontline of the fight against Islamic State militants in Nawaran near Mosul, IraqAhmed Jadallah/ Reuters
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A member of Iraq's pro-government forces rests in al-Sejar village in Iraq's Anbar province, on the boundaries of Fallujah, IraqAhmad al-Rubaye/ AFP
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Female Peshmerga fighters hold their weapons at a site during a deployment near the frontline of the fight against Islamic State militants in Nawaran near Mosul, IraqAhmed Jadallah/ Reuters
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Members of the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), a militia affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), detonate improvised explosive devices captured from Islamic State fighters near village of Umm al-Dhiban, northern IraqGoran Tomasevic/ Reuters
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An Iraqi soldier works at a radio station set up by the Iraqi army at its base in Makhmour, Iraq. The radio station broadcasts into areas south of Mosul controlled by Islamic State militants and broadcasts military anthems and messages to the more than one million civilians living there. Radio operators said their aim was to weaken the militants’ morale and reassure civilians that the military has not forgotten them after nearly two years under Islamic State controlAhmed Jadallah/ Reuters
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Yazidi fighters ride a pickup truck during a deployment near the frontline of the fight against Islamic State militants in Nawaran near Mosul, IraqAhmed Jadallah/ Reuters
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Iraqi soldiers have their lunch at their base in Makhmour, after it was freed from control of Islamic State, south of MosulAhmad al-Rubaye/ AFP
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Shi'ite fighters carry a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) during clashes with Islamic State militants on the outskirt of Fallujah, IraqReuters
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Members of the Shi'ite Badr organisation inspect the remains of Iraqi security forces who were killed by Islamic State militants in Saqlawiya, north of Fallujah, IraqThaier Al-Sudani/ Reuters
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Shi'ite fighters hold an image of the Islamic State flag after clashes with IS militants in Saqlawiya, north of Fallujah, IraqReuters
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Smoke rises from clashes with Islamic State militants in Saqlawiya, north of Fallujah, IraqReuters
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Men, who the Democratic Forces of Syria fighters claimed were Islamic State fighters, walk as they are taken prisoners after SDF advanced in the southern rural area of Manbij, in Aleppo Governorate, SyriaRodi Said/ Reuters
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Iraqi government forces supported by the Popular Mobilisation units take cover behind a wall as they engage in combat in the Saqlawiyah area, north west of Fallujah, IraqAhmad al-Rubaye/ AFP
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Kurdish Peshmerga fighters observe the front line with Islamic State, in Gwar, northern IraqAhmed Jadallah/ Reuters
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An Iraqi Shi'ite fighter covers his ear as artillery fires towards Islamic State militants near Fallujah, Iraq
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Shiite fighters from the Popular Mobilisation units hold an Islamic State (IS) group upside down in the village of al-Azraqiyah as they advance towards the centre of Saqlawiyah, north west of Fallujah, IraqAhmad al-Rubaye/ AFP

Experts say even if Iraq and Syria recapture Fallujah and al-Raqqa, Sunnis living the areas will not trust the governments led by Shia and Alawites, respectively. The United States, Russia and other countries are trying to expand their reach in the Middle East in a post-extremist era, while Saudi Arabia and Iran wish their religious sects could play a greater influence in the two countries. Therefore, even if the extremists are defeated, turmoil in the Middle East will continue in the future, according to the analysts.