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Iraqi PM announces liberation of al-Qaim in western Iraq
04 November 2017, 12:55 | Kara Nash
Syrian army frees eastern city from ISIS, state media says
A United States-led worldwide coalition which has been bombing ISIS and supporting ground allies on both sides of the frontier said the militant group now has a few thousand fighters left, mainly holed up in the two sister towns in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS was pushed from Qaim on Friday, the terror group's last major stronghold in Iraq, according to the office of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Qaim is located in the western part of Anbar province, along the Iraq-Syria border, where ISIS holds the last of its territory - the remnants of its so-called caliphate.
The notorious terrorist group has recently suffered a string of crushing defeats in both Iraq and Syria after overrunning vast swathes of territory in both countries in 2014.
But both the Iraqi and Syrian governments and their global backers say they worry that the fighters will still be able to mount guerrilla attacks once they no longer have territory to defend.
He estimated there were 1,500-2,500 fighters left in al-Qaim and 2,000-3,000 in Albu Kamal.
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A senior Iranian official said on Friday that Syrian government forces would advance soon to take Raqqa city, which USA -backed fighters seized from Islamic State last month.
The Al-Qaim border crossing stands roughly two kilometers west of the Iraqi city of Al-Qaim, which Iraqi forces reportedly captured on Friday.
Government forces launched the operation last week to seize Al-Qaim and its surroundings, a pocket of barren desert along the Euphrates river near the border with Syria.
Deir el-Zour had been divided into a government-held and an IS-held part for almost three years.
The UN said the executed civilians were among at least 2,521 who were killed during the battle for the city, mostly from ISIS attacks, including indiscriminate shelling and the use of improvised bombs and explosive-laden drones.
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