Iraqi PM announces liberation of al-Qaim in western Iraq

Iraqi PM announces liberation of al-Qaim in western Iraq

Iraqi forces Friday captured the biggest town under Islamic State group control in Iraq, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said, driving another nail into the coffin of the jihadists' self-styled caliphate.

"The Syrian Arab Army restored security and stability to the entire city of Deir Ezzor after eliminating Daesh's last stronghold in it", the state media said, using the Arabic name for ISIS. The extremists have lost almost all their urban strongholds in Syria and Iraq.

The development is the latest significant defeat for ISIS as the militant group sees its self-proclaimed "caliphate" crumble and lose nearly all urban strongholds.

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Iraqi forces had surrounded the last of the ISIS fighters in nearby towns Rawa and Romana, as well as surrounding areas north of the Euphrates River on Qaim's outskirts, Rasoul said.

Syrian troops backed by Russian Federation and Kurdish-led forces supported by the United States are now racing toward Boukamal from opposite sides of the Euphrates River, triggering concerns that a proxy showdown could ensue between the two sides.

Al-Zawbaei went on to point out that Iraqi ground forces were receiving air support from USA -led coalition warplanes, which, he said, had succeeded in destroying "many" ISIS sites in western Anbar.

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ISIS is also under pressure from separate offensives by Syrian regime and US-backed forces in the neighboring Syrian province of Deir Ezzor.

Mayhoub described it as the "last phase" of the military's campaign toward the annihilation of IS in Syria.

Meanwhile, Army Captain Mohamed Khattab al-Azzawi said Iraqi police and army forces on Thursday had dismantled a booby-trapped vehicle on the outskirts of Mosul's Al-Hadbaa district.

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Albert Aji and Zeina Karam are Associated Press writers.

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