Iraqi forces attack Islamic State in Syria border area

Iraqi forces announce ISIS expulsion from town west of Anbar

Iraqi forces on Saturday captured a desert outpost of the ISIS group near the Syrian border in preparation for a drive up the Euphrates Valley towards the frontier, commanders said.

Imad Meshaal, mayor of Rutba, a desert town further south recaptured from ISIS a year ago, told AFP the jihadists had turned the area into a major hub for arms caches, training camps and command centres.

The offensive is also aimed at tightening Iraq's hold on its border with Syria, a spokesman for Iraq's Joint Operations Command, Brigadier Yehia Rasool, said in a statement.

In a separate statement, the Hashd Shaabi said the troops liberated Akashat area after they destroyed IS defensive lines there, which was used by IS militants as a corridor to move between Syria and Iraq, leaving many IS militants killed and wounded in the area.

An Iraqi military statement said on Saturday Akashat, a desert region located south of the Euphrates river, was captured in an offensive which had been announced earlier in the day.

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IS has been driven out of most of the territories it seized in 2014, from northern Iraq through the country's center and across western Anbar province.

In July, Iraq retook control of Mosul, Islamic State's key stronghold in the north, after a campaign of almost nine months.

Two different alliances are also advancing on Islamic State position on the Syrian side of the border there - Syrian government forces supported by Russian air strikes and Iran-backed militias, and a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters.

In recent months, Islamic State has suffered a series of military setbacks and lost ground in Iraq and Syria.

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