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Iraqi Forces Look to Rout Last of IS Fighters From Town


Iraqi forces and members of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization units) advance toward the city of al-Qaim, in Iraq's western Anbar province near the Syrian border as they fight against remnant pockets of Islamic State group jihadists, Nov. 3, 2017

Iraqi forces launched an offensive Saturday to capture Rawa, the last remaining town under Islamic-State control, leaving the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate on the verge of complete defeat.

The capture of the town would mark the end of Islamic State’s era of territorial rule over a so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across vast swaths of Iraq and Syria.

Syria’s army declared victory over the militants Thursday, after seizing the last substantial town on the border with Iraq.

The army and its allies were still fighting Islamic State in desert areas near Albu Kamal, the last town the militant group had held in Syria.

Two Iraqi infantry divisions and Sunni tribal forces are participating in the offensive to recapture the small town of Rawa and its surrounding areas along the border with Syria, the Joint Operations Command said in a statement.

Last week, Iraqi forces recaptured the larger town of al-Qaim, in what Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called “record time,” leaving just a few small pockets of land in Islamic State’s hands.

Iraq has been carrying out its final campaign to crush the Islamic State caliphate while also mounting a military offensive in the north against the Kurds who held an independence referendum in September.

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