A year ago, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria began a destructive campaign to gain control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria, leading to thousands of deaths and displaced millions of people.
Here is how the year of offensives unraveled, beginning with the siege of Iraq’s second city of Mosul exactly a year ago today.
Following the fall of Mosul in n June 2014, the province of Nineveh followed suit as several Iraqi army divisions collapse.
Just two days later Tikrit, another major city in Iraq, falls to the control of ISIS. Following this, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, calls for military action to be taken against ISIS. As this was happening, ISIS made the claim that they had executed 1,700 people, by issuing photos of the slaughters.
At the end of June, ISIS formally declared their “caliphate” crossing the border between Iraq and Syria, the leader of which was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In the first days of August ISIS re-launched their northern offensive, targeting the religious minority of Yazidis on Mount Sinjar in Iraq. Their actions sparked international concern, so only days later the U.S. began an airstrikes campaign on Iraq, with an international coalition not far behind.
On August 19, ISIS released a clip of the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley. This was first in a series of beheadings of international journalists and aid workers including Steven Sotloff, Kenji Goto, David Haines and Alan Henning.
Towards the end of September, the coalition expanded the airstrike campaign to include Syrian territories.
Throughout the month of October there were several mass killings, such as that of the Albu Nimr tribesmen. The jihadist group also declared their first significant government victory near Baghdad in the Jurf al-Sakhr area.
By mid-November Iraqi forces recapture the town of Baiji, strategically located on the main road to Mosul, but fail to maintain the control and eventually lose it to ISIS again.
During the month of January, claims were made accusing Shiite militia men, typically loyal to the Iraqi government, of executing 70 residents in the Diyala province. Just days after these claims were made Staff Lieutenant Gen. Abdulamir al-Zaidi declared that the province was “liberated” from ISIS.
The following month ISIS released more footage of them murdering people. This time it was Maaz al-Kassasbeh, a Jordanian pilot who had been captured in Syria in December. The clip showed him being burned alive in cage. Other footage showed militants destroying priceless artefacts in a museum in Mosul.
In March of this year, Iraqi forces launched an operation to reclaim the city of Tikrit, which Haider al-Abadi announced had been successful on the 31st. In the meantime, ISIS released more footage of the destruction of ancient artefacts, but this time in the Assyrian city of Nimrud.
In April there was further destruction of artefacts, this time belonging to a UNESCO world heritage site in the city of Hatra.
The most recent ISIS victory was the seizure of Ramadi, the capital of the province of Anbar, on May 17. This was followed by the capture of Syrian Palmyra just days later.