Assyrians wave their community’s flag, as they march past a church that was damaged during the Lebanese civil war, during a protest in solidarity with Christians abducted in Syria and Iraq by Islamic State militants, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. The Islamic State group, which has repeatedly targeted religious minorities in Syria and Iraq, abducted more than 220 Assyrians this week in northeastern Syria. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
By RYAN LUCAS, Associated Press
BEIRUT (AP) — Little known to the wider world 18 months ago, the Islamic State extremist group has muscled its way into the international spotlight by carving out a self-declared caliphate in the heart of the Mideast, beheading its opponents and foreign journalists, and attracting radicalized youth as far afield as Paris, London and New York.
The militants’ once seemingly unstoppable push across Syria and Iraq has slowed to a crawl in recent months as the United States, its Arab allies and even rival Iran work to roll back the group and ultimately defeat it. Despite those efforts, the extremists show little sign of crumbling under the weight of international efforts to crush it.
Here’s a look at what happened this week involving the extremist group and the fight against it: