In Iraq, the group has lost territory in and around its northern stronghold of Mosul since U.S.-backed Iraqi forces last October began the biggest ground operation in the country since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. A growing number of disillusioned local Sunnis are now cooperating with the Iraqi army and helping in the fight against Islamic State and its financial resources have been badly hit. Turkey has also sealed its border, denying IS a route for bringing in foreign fighters and smuggling in other goods. Islamic State's presence in Iraq is mostly concentrated in the north, but it still has significant strongholds such as Tal Afar, to the west of Mosul, and nearby areas such as Al Qaem near the Syrian border. Even so, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said IS will be driven out of the country by April. IS still holds swathes of Syrian territory and is putting up fierce resistance in Raqqa, its capital in eastern Syria. It still holds around 90 percent of the province of Deir Ez-Zor near the Iraqi border, along with Raqqa and some parts of the eastern countryside of Aleppo in northern Syria. It also controls Palmyra and some pockets in Deraa in the south. Its opponents in Syria include the Turkish army and Syrian rebel groups northeast of Aleppo. On several fronts it is fighting Syrian government forces supported by the Russian air force and Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has indicated he sees Trump's views on Islamic State as promising.
Flight time on the route is 16 hours, 10 minutes, on the New Zealand-bound leg. The return, which typically faces more headwinds, is scheduled for awhopping 17 hours, 30 minutes, according to the carriers website. Qatar Airways new service edges it past Middle East rival Emirates, whose 8,819-mile route from Dubai to Auckland clocks in at 16 hours, 5 minutes, in the direction of New Zealand and at 17 hours, 20 minutes on the return. With that, Qatar Airways can now claim the worlds longest flight both by time and by distance, according to air travel intelligence company OAG. That latter distinction, however, comes with something of an asterisk. Air India also has emerged as a contender for the worlds longest flight after it shifted the routing of its Delhi-San Francisco route this past fall. Instead of flying the shortest distance between the cities via a polar route, the airline now routes its Delhi-to-San Francisco route over the Pacific, The Times of India affordable flights to orlando from kelowna reports. Despite the longer distance - about 9,400 miles for the flight - the tailwinds common on that particular route actually help the airline save fuel even compared to the shorter polar route. Reuters Auckland Airport welcomes the first Qatar Airways flight with a traditional water cannon salute. Without the voluntary longer routing, the distance on the Delhi-San Francisco route comesin at onlyabout 7,700 miles. That wouldnt even place it among the worlds 25 longest routes by distance, according to OAG's data. As for Qatar Airways, it's currently flying its new Doha-Auckland flights on 259-seat Boeing 777 aircraft. The flights to NewYork first flight on the route took off Sunday morning Doha time and touched down in Auckland on MondayNew Zealand time (Sunday U.S. time).
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/news/this-17-hour-flight-is-now-the-longest-in-the-world/ar-AAmEvqK?li=BBnbfcL