Clashes between Iraqi forces and IS alongside Syria border

BEIRUT — Clashes have erupted on the Syrian-Iraqi border between Islamic State group militants and Iraqi paramilitary fighters because the extremist group defends its final stronghold within the area, a Syria monitoring group and an Iraqi official mentioned Saturday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights mentioned the clashes began late Friday and continued into Saturday. The Observatory mentioned that IS militants inside Syria repelled an badault by Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, the paramilitary group of largely Shiite fighters inside the Iraqi safety forces. The Observatory mentioned the badault pbaded off close to the border city of Boukamal however that the PMF fighters crossed again into Iraq.

Jaafar al-Husseini, spokesman for Iraq’s Kataeb Hezbollah, a gaggle inside the PMF, instructed The Associated Press his forces clashed with IS simply meters from the border with Syria. He mentioned his forces additionally fired rockets inside Syria from Qaim, the Iraqi border city reclaimed from IS Friday.

But al-Husseini mentioned his fighters didn’t cross into Syria. He mentioned forces from Iraqi militias have been already combating in Syria alongside the Syrian authorities and different Iran-supported militias to reclaim the final stronghold of the group and safe the street between Iraq and Syria, all the best way to Lebanon.

He mentioned his forces are constructing berms alongside the border to forestall militants from sneaking again.

On Friday, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s navy introduced the seize of the japanese Syrian metropolis of Deir el-Zour, whereas Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory in retaking the city of Qaim on the border, the militants’ final vital city space in Iraq. The Syrian forces are anticipated to now concentrate on Boukamal.

Boukamal is the final city heart for the militants in each Iraq and Syria the place Syrian troops —backed by Russia and Iranian-supported militias — and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are vying for management of the strategic border city, key to regulate of the borders between the 2 international locations.

Washington is cautious of accelerating Iran affect within the space and has backed the SDF of their bid to uproot IS from the borders with Iraq. The proximity of forces within the space has raised issues about potential clashes between them as they strategy Boukamal from reverse sides of the Euphrates River, and now from throughout the border with Iraq.

Al-Husseini mentioned the PMF will take part within the liberation of Boukamal and can head north to guard the borders and safe the street from Iran to Lebanon.

“We can say after liberating the borders that we have foiled the U.S. project on the Iraq and Syrian borders,” mentioned al-Husseini.

Spokesman for the U.S. coalition Col. Ryan Dillon instructed AP that regardless of a number of forces working within the space, together with the Syrian troops, Russia and Iranian-backed militias, the coalition continues to de-conflict with the Russians to keep away from confrontation.

Dillon mentioned there are between 2,500 and three,500 remaining IS fighters concentrated round Boukamal.


Abdul-Zahra reported from Baghdad.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials will not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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