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Syrian Army Takes Last Town Held By ISIS

Syrian Army Takes Last Town Held By ISIS Promo Image

The Syrian army has captured the last town in the country held by ISIS.

Army units entered the town of Albu Kamal, near the border with Iraq, on Nov. 8 and declared it to be clear of ISIS fighters Nov. 9, according to The Associated Press.

"The liberation of Albu Kamal is of great importance because it is a declaration of the fall of this group's project in the region generally and the collapse of its supporters' illusions to divide it, control large parts of the Syria-Iraq borders and secure supply routes between the two countries," Syrian army spokesman General Ali Mayhoub declared in a televised address, according to The Associated Press.

An offensive has also been launched on ISIS' remaining territory in Iraq. Militants aligned with the Iraqi government took the town of Al-Qa'im, which controls an important border crossing between Iraq and Syria.

U.S.-backed forces, organized in the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, have sought to capture ISIS territory before the Syrian government could do so. The U.S. is concerned about the growth of the influence of Iran, which supports the Syrian government.

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In October, the SDF cleared ISIS fighters from the Syrian city of Raqqa. They then advanced on Albu Kamal from the opposite direction to the Syrian government troops.

Reports from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which supported the Syrian government's offensive, indicate that leading ISIS figures, including its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, were seen in the town shortly before it was liberated.

But the U.S.-led coalition carrying out air raids against ISIS in Syria and Iraq contradicted the report, saying there was no evidence to suggest al-Baghdadi was in Albu Kamal.

Estimates suggested that between 2,500 and 3,500 ISIS fighters were in the area around Albu Kamal. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights noted that ISIS still controls several small villages in desert areas, Newsweek reported.

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The group still continues to update its media center. AP reported that ISIS members are likely to continue fighting in the desert.

U.S. and Russian officials indicated Nov. 9 they are on the verge of concluding an agreement to end Syria's civil war when ISIS has been defeated. Officials not authorized to discuss the contents of the agreement publicly told Time that U.S. and Russian officials hope to expand "deconfliction" areas in various parts of the country with the aim of reducing violence.

They also plan to restart United Nations-led piece talks on Syria's future, including a political transition.

While the U.S. has provided some support to rebels fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Russia has backed it. Assad is considered a close Russian ally.

Sources: AP via Independent, Newsweek, Time / Featured image: Commons / Embedded images: Amber Smith/Jim Mattis/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons, Voice of America News/YouTube via Wikimedia Commons

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