Iraqi Forces At­tack IS In Syria Bor­der Area


BAGH­DAD (Reuters) - Iraqi armed forces said on Satur­day they had started an of­fen­sive to dis­lodge Is­lamic State from a bor­der area hold­ing some of the mil­i­tants’ last towns in the coun­try.

The of­fen­sive in the Akashat re­gion, which has nat­u­ral gas re­serves and bor­ders Syria, is meant to pave the way for the re­cap­ture of ur­ban cen­ters in the Euphrates river val­ley, in­clud­ing the bor­der post of al-Qaim, mil­i­tary state­ments said.

The Iraqi air force dropped thou­sands of leaflets overnight on Akashat south of the Euphrates river as well as al-Qaim and the towns of Ana and Rawa, telling the mil­i­tants to sur­ren­der or face death, the state­ments said.

Two dif­fer­ent al­liances are also ad­vanc­ing on Is­lamic State po­si­tion on the Syr­ian side of the bor­der there -Syr­ian govern­ment forces sup­ported by Rus­sian air strikes and Iran-backed mili­tias, and a U.S.-backed al­liance of Kur­dish and Arab fight­ers.

The cross-bor­der “caliphate” de­clared by Is­lamic State in 2014 ef­fec­tively col­lapsed in July, when a U.S.-backed Iraqi of­fen­sive cap­tured Mo­sul, the mil­i­tants’ cap­i­tal in Iraq.

The towns in the bor­der re­gion with Syria and Haw­ija, a north­ern prov­ince close to the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, are the only ur­ban cen­ters still un­der Is­lamic State con­trol in Iraq.

The group over­ran about a third of Iraq in 2014 in a sweep­ing of­fen­sive that al­lowed the mil­i­tants to grab hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars worth of weaponry and ve­hi­cles left by the flee­ing Iraqi forces.

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