Published: Mon, November 06, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Iraqi forces enter al-Qaim in final offensive on ISIS-held areas

Iraqi forces enter al-Qaim in final offensive on ISIS-held areas

The development is the latest significant defeat for ISIS as the militant group sees its self-proclaimed "caliphate" crumble and lose nearly all urban strongholds.

Those that were targeted in the attack were likely fleeing the fighting that had recently taken place in the city of Deir Az Zor.

"Army units, in cooperation with allied forces, liberated the city of Deir al-Zour completely from the Daesh terrorist organization", the Syrian military statement said, using the Arabic name for ISIS.

The first is being led by the Syrian regime, backed by Russian forces, on the western banks of the Euphrates.

Gaining control of Deir Ezzor was a significant victory for the Syrian government, and followed ISIS' ousting from Raqqa, the de facto capital of the caliphate. Its most important remaining position is the town of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border. He hailed the city's recapture as a strategic win, noting its location on a crossroads linking the country's eastern, northern and central regions, as well as an "oil and gas reservoir" — a reference to the province.

On Thursday, the troops established control over 85% of the border area.

While the city of Deir el-Zour was divided into parts held by the Syrian government and the militants, the United Nations was only occasionally able to deliver helicopter-dropped food aid to besieged residents estimated to number about 200,000.

Syrian troops and allied fighters backed by Russian air power have been battling inside the eastern city since September, when they broke an IS siege of almost three years on government-held districts.

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