Iraqi forces have entered al-Qaim, one of the last remaining territories in the country still held by Islamic State militants, the Joint Operations Command said on Friday.
Units from the Iraqi army, Counter-Terrorism Services, Sunni tribal and Iranian-backed Popular Mobilisation forces (PMF) are participating in an offensive to recapture al-Qaim and Rawa, two towns which lie on the border area with Syria.
Iraq’s security forces retook a border crossing with Syria from the militants, hours after entering al-Qaim, according to the Joint Operations Command.
The road runs through al-Qaim in Iraq and Albu-Kamal in Syria, two towns which are very close to each other on opposite sides of the border in the last important territorial stronghold of Islamic State.
Welcoming the offensive, the U.S.-led international military coalition, which has run an air campaign against Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq since 2014, said in a statement that approximately 1,500 Islamic State fighters were estimated to remain in the immediate vicinity of al-Qaim.
Operations to clear the militants from their final strongholds in Iraq have continued, despite a concurrent military advance on Kurdish-held territory in the north.