The Iraqi military has launched an offensive to capture the last remaining bastions of Islamic State control in several small towns and villages along the border with Syria.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the multi-flanked attack Thursday, saying the IS jihadists remaining in Al-Qaim and Raqa have just two choices — “death or surrender.”
"They will all return to the arms of the motherland thanks to the determination and endurance of our fighting heroes," he said.
The U.S.-led coalition fighting in Iraq has dubbed the offensive "the last big fight," as Iraqi forces have already recaptured more than 90 percent of the territory previously seized by IS in 2014.
There are about 1,500 IS fighters remaining in the area surrounding Al-Qaim, according to the U.S. military.
The U.S.-led coalition said it launched 15 strikes on IS targets in the Al-Qaim area and in the town of Albu Kamal on the Syrian side of the border.
Russian-backed fighters on the Syrian side of the border have also been pushing back on IS fighters, moving along the Euphrates valley, while separate U.S.-backed forces attack the jihadists from the North.