Iraqi forces capture border crossing to Syria from IS

Nabaa Media a Syrian opposition media outlet that is consistent with independent AP reporting shows smoke rising over buildings that were hit by Syrian government forces bombardment

The capture of al-Waleed swept ID fighters from the vicinity of a USA base located on the other side of the border, in Syrian territory.

Tribal forces and border police, supported by Iraqi and US -led coalition aircraft, took part in the operation to take the al-Waleed crossing, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a statement Saturday.

The al-Waleed crossing, located in the far west of Iraq, fell under IS control in 2015 and gave the militant group full control of the Iraq-Syria border.

BEIRUT — Iraqi forces captured Saturday a border crossing point to Syria from the Islamic State group, increasing pressure on the extremists and getting closer to meeting up with Syrian troops and their allies who reached the border earlier this month for the first time in years.

Aircraft from the US -led coalition and the Iraqi air force took part in the operation, the statement said.

Since a resumption of negotiations past year, there have been multiple rounds brokered by the United Nations between representatives of Syrian rebels or the government of Bashar al-Assad, resulting in scant progress.

The involvement of Iraqi Sunni tribal fighters in the operation to dislodge the militants from al-Waleed is another indication that Iran will not yet be able to use the highway.

In Mosul, where a US-backed offensive against IS on Saturday entered its ninth month, the militants have been squeezed into an enclave on the western bank of the Tigris River.

Iraqi government forces regained eastern Mosul in January, then a month later began the offensive on the western side that includes the Old City, a dense maze of narrow alleyways where fighting is mainly done house by house.

IS also controls territory along the border with Syria and urban pockets west and south of Mosul.

About 100,000 civilians remain trapped in harrowing conditions behind IS lines in Mosul, with little food, water and medicine and limited access to hospitals, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday.

IS has been preventing civilians from leaving Raqqa in an apparent attempt to use them as human shields.

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