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Iraqi forces drive Daesh fighters from vicinity of US base in Syria

Presence of Sunni tribal fighters at Al Waleed border crossing effectively denies Iran access to key highway

Image Credit: REUTERS
Members of the Iraqi Army's 9th Armoured Division are photographed with an Islamic State flag, claimed after fighting with Islamic State militants in western Mosul, Iraq.
Gulf News

Baghdad: The Iraqi army and Sunni tribal fighters have dislodged Daesh from the Al Waleed border crossing into Syria, an Iraqi military statement said on Saturday.

The capture of Al Waleed removes Daesh fighters from the vicinity of a US base located on the other side of the border, in Syrian territory.

Aircraft from the US-led coalition and the Iraqi air force took part in the operation, the statement said.

Al Waleed is close to Tanf, a strategic Syrian border crossing with Iraq on the Baghdad-Damascus highway, where US.

forces have assisted Syrian rebels trying to recapture territory from Daesh.

US forces have been based at Tanf since last year, in effect preventing Iranian-backed forces supporting Syrian President Bashar Al Assad from receiving heavy weaponry from Iran by using the main highway between Iraq and Syria.

The involvement of Iraqi Sunni tribal fighters in the operation to dislodge the militants from Al Waleed is another indication that Iran will not yet be able to use the highway.

Pro-Al Assad forces in Syria, mainly comprising Iraqi Shiite militias, last week reached the Iraqi border north-east of Tanf, potentially preventing the US-backed rebels from taking more territory from Daesh alongside the border area with Iraq.

In Mosul, where a US-backed offensive against Daesh on Saturday entered its ninth month, the terrorists have been squeezed into an enclave on the western bank of the Tigris river.

Daesh also controls territory along the border with Syria and urban pockets west and south of Mosul.

In Syria, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, made up predominantly of Kurdish fighters, have seized territory to the north, east and west of Raqqa, Daesh’s Syrian bastion.