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A US-backed alliance of Syrian fighters has announced that the United States and its partners have reclaimed the last territory in Syria controlled by Islamic State (IS) militants. But who are they, and how did their influence spread? The extremist Islamist group came to international prominence in 2014 when it seized large parts of Syria and Iraq. IS imposed its brutal rule on almost eight million people, carried out countless atrocities, destroyed cultural heritage, and generated billions of dollars in revenue from oil, extortion, robbery and kidnapping. After five years of fierce and bloody battles, local forces, backed by world powers, have driven IS out of all the territory it once controlled. Full story

23 March