Saturday, 18 November, 2017

Syrian army frees eastern city from ISIS, state media says

Last month the Iraqi army began a wide-ranging campaign aimed at liberating the cities of Rawa and Al Qaim Last month the Iraqi army began a wide-ranging campaign aimed at liberating the cities of Rawa and Al Qaim
Saul Franklin | 04 November, 2017, 00:54

Iraqi forces on Friday entered Al-Qaim, the main town in ISIS's last bastion in the country, military commanders said.

The leader released a statement congratulating Iraqis "in the wake of heroes taking control of Qaim and liberating it in record time".

A US -backed alliance of Syrian militias wrested control of Islamic State's de facto capital, Raqqa, last month, and Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul, the largest city held by the militants, in July.

A US-led worldwide coalition has also been bombing ISIS and supporting ground allies on both sides of the frontier said the militant group now has a few thousand fighters left, mainly holed up at the border in Iraq's al-Qaim and its sister town of Albu Kamal on the Syrian side.

Deir al-Zor, on the west bank of the Euphrates River, is the largest and most important city in eastern Syria, and is the centre of the country's oil production.

Last month, USA -backed militias declared victory in Raqqa, Islamic State's former headquarters in Syria, after months of fighting for the city with the help of the US -led coalition.

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On Oct. 26, the security forces initiated their advance towards the last urban IS stronghold in Iraq near the Iraqi-Syrian border. Gen. Robert P. White with Operation Inherent Resolve.

"The threat remains, and there is still hard work to do, but we will continue to stand side by side with the Iraqi government and the [Iraqi forces] to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS", White said.

Deir Ezzor had been divided into government-held and ISIS-held parts for almost three years.

"Army troops backed by Hashd al-Shaabi fighters and Arab tribal volunteers have completely liberated Al-Qaim's city center", Anadolu news agency quoted Colonel Walid al-Duleimi as saying. "The Iraqi national flag has been raised over the city's local government headquarters", he said.

The ISIS losses in Deir Ezzor and Qaim further condensed and compressed ISIS territory, squeezing the caliphate into a smaller and narrower area.

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