RELIGION

US, allies say they're at 'key moment' in fight against IS

  • Secretary of State John Kerry arrives at a news conference at the conclusion of the Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

    Secretary of State John Kerry arrives at a news conference at the conclusion of the Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)  (The Associated Press)

  • Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

    Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)  (The Associated Press)

  • Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

    Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)  (The Associated Press)

The U.S. and its counterterrorism allies believe they've reached a "key moment" in their campaign to defeat the Islamic State group despite several difficult months.

After two days of talks in Washington, a joint statement Thursday cites steady advances by Iraqi forces and Syrian opposition militias. It says the coalition is moving closer to Mosul, the Islamic State's headquarters in Iraq, and Raqqa, its Syrian base of operations.

But the 30 countries that sent top diplomats and military officials also learned of only limited ground gains.

In the discussions Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry told participants that the Islamic State has lost a fifth of its Syrian territory and almost half of the Iraqi area it once controlled. Those numbers are barely better than they were in January.