Islamic State terrorist group advances to the Iraqi border in eastern Syria
Islamic State militants have reversed recent setbacks in eastern Syria and advanced to the war-torn country’s border with Iraq after a string of attacks, a monitoring group reported on Sunday.
The radical group has forced US-backed Syrian forces to withdraw from all areas they seized east of the Euphrates River in a major offensive launched last month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Islamic State insurgents reached Syria’s border with Iraq late Saturday after the assault, the latest in a series of counter-attacks against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) allied with the US, the Britain-based watchdog said.
Islamic State has taken advantage of a strong sandstorm in the region that has forced US-alliance warplanes to the ground.
“Familiarity with the region and the rough weather are two main factors that helped [Islamic State] to advance there again,” Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the Observatory, told dpa.
The SDF and the US-led alliance are preparing to mount a new operation aimed at expelling Islamic State from its last pocket east of the Euphrates, according to the monitor.
Last month, the SDF said its forces had started the final stage of their campaign against Islamic State extremists in Syria’s eastern province of Deir al-Zour. The SDF has played a major role in fighting Islamic State in Syria, taking over most of the militia’s strongholds in the provinces of al-Raqqa and Deir al-Zour.
Islamic State still controls pockets in eastern and southern Syria.
In recent months, the extremist group has suffered military setbacks and territorial losses in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.
Source: Gulf Times