Syrian army, allies, take last IS stronghold in Syria

"The last stronghold of Daesh (Islamic State), Albu Kamal, is free of the Daesh organisation", the commander said.

At the height of its power in 2015, it ruled over an expanse of the two countries, eradicating their border, printing money, imposing draconian laws and plotting attacks across the world. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, reported that Iraqi militias had crossed into Syria to join the assault, but they denied it.

Islamic State has been all but destroyed over the past two years. Syrian troops then encircled the ISIS-held town of Al-Bukamal as the Popular Mobilization Forces crossed the border to join the fight to retake the jihadis final refuge in Syria, according to the pro-opposition, United Kingdom -based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Amid lightning gains that saw the group control almost half of Iraq and Syria at its height in 2014, Baghdadi beckoned Muslims from around the world to join his militant cause during a speech from the Grand Al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, his first and only known public appearance as ISIS chief. Earlier, the Russian Defense Minister, Sergey Shoigu, said Islamic State controlled "more than 70 percent of Syrian territory" before Russian Air Forces started its operation in the Middle Eastern country.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have also been carrying out offensives in the area. Scattered villages near al-Qaim, close to Albu Kamal, are still under militant control in an area called Rummana. It is located near al-Qaim, and as Iraqi forces continue to recapture their cities, many predict that it will not take long before ISIS loses their ground on Rawa.

IS retains control over some areas of desert and villages nearby, and a few other pockets in both Iraq and Syria.


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