Iraqi forces attack islamic state in syria
Iraqi armed forces on Saturday dislodged Islamic State from a natural gas-rich border area with Syria, according to the military. Iranian-backed forces fighting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army simultaneously announced the start of an offensive to reach the same border area from the opposite side. An Iraqi military statement said Akashat, a desert region located south of the Euphrates river, was captured in an offensive which had been announced earlier in the day. The attack on Akashat is meant to pave the way for the recapture of urban centers in the Euphrates valley, including the border post of al-Qaim, it said. Iranian-backed Shi‘ite paramilitary forces known as Popular Mobilization and Sunni tribal fighters known as Tribal Mobilization took part in the offensive, it added. The Iraqi air force dropped thousands of leaflets overnight on Akashat as well as on al-Qaim and the towns of Ana and Rawa, alongside the Euphrates, telling the militants to surrender or face death, the statement said. Two different campaigns are also advancing on Islamic State positions on the Syrian side of the border there - Syrian government forces supported by Russian air strikes and Iran-backed militias, and a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters known as Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). An alliance of Shi‘ite militias fighting with the Syrian army said it launched an assault to reach al-Bukamal, the Syrian border town on the Euphrates, facing alQaim.