Syrian govt recaptures border town from ISIS

BEIRUT • The Syrian army and its allies took complete control over Albu Kamal, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) last significant town in Syria, a military news service run by Hizbollah said yesterday.

The army had declared victory over ISIS in Albu Kamal earlier this month, but the extremists then staged a counter-attack using sleeper cells hidden in the town.

Driving ISIS from Albu Kamal means only a few villages along the Euphrates and patches of nearby desert, as well as isolated pockets in other parts of the country, remain in Syria of the caliphate it declared in 2014.

Most of the forces battling ISIS in Syria and Iraq have said they expect it to go underground and turn to a guerilla insurgency using sleeper cells and bombings.

Western intelligence agencies have said it can still inspire attacks on civilians around the world.

“The Syrian Army and its allies in the axis of resistance have expelled Daesh from its last stronghold on Syrian soil,” the Hizbollah news service reported, referring to ISIS by its Arabic acronym.

The “axis of resistance” is used by those in it to describe the alliance of Iran, Syria and Shi’ite militias, including Hizbollah.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said yesterday that most ISIS members withdrew from the town, with fighting continuing in the perimeter of Albu Kamal.

ISIS’ area of rule in Syria has crumbled this year under two rival military campaigns. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, backed by a US-led coalition, has driven ISIS from much of its territory in the north, including its former Syrian capital Raqqa.

Syria’s army and its allies have waged an offensive across central and eastern Syria backed by Russian air and missile power.

The two offensives have mostly avoided conflict with each other through communication between the United States and Russia.

However, Syrian and Iranian officials have said Damascus seeks to regain control over areas held by the SDF. Iraqi forces last Friday captured the last remaining town under ISIS control on its territory, the border town of Rawa.




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