Islamic State on the verge of total defeat

Syrian troops and allied militiamen on Thursday expelled Islamic State group fighters from Albu Kamal, the last significant town the jihadists still held in their disintegrating "caliphate".

Following a large-scale tactical retreat by the Islamic State on Thursday, the Kurdish-led "Syrian Democratic Forces" (SDF) seized over 20 villages on either side of the Khabur River in a region roughly 80 kilometers northeast of Deir Ezzor City.

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.

Iraqi commander Abdelamir Yarallah said the town of Rumana and 10 other nearby villages were liberated from IS on November 11.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during a visit to city of Karbala today said that Iraqi forces were launching an operation to push Daesh out of a patch on the western edge near the border with Syria.

Russian-backed Syrian regime forces and allied fighters had steadily advanced on Albu Kamal from the south and west for weeks, while Iraqi forces had closed in on the border area from the east.

The defeat of militants in Rawa would mark the end of ISIS' era of territorial rule over the so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said much of the fighting had been done by allied militias rather than the regular army.

  • Rogelio Becker