Tabnak – As ISIS terrorist group is experiencing the final days of its rule, governmental and popular forces in both Syria and Iraq managed to retake some strategic territories from the terrorists’ grip. Deir al-Zour in Syria and al-Qaim in Iraq are now back in the control of Iraqi and Syrian governments.
According to The Washington Post, the Syrian government announced Friday that it had recaptured one of the last remaining strongholds of ISIS in the country.
Syrian Brig. Gen. Ali Mayhoub, a military spokesman, described the victory in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour as the "last phase" in the army's campaign to defeat ISIS in Syria, three years after the group declared a "caliphate" stretching from the country northeast to territory deep inside Iraq.
Deir al-Zour had been divided into zones controlled by the Syrian government and ISIS for nearly three years. It is the largest city in eastern Syria and the largest to be recaptured by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In a separate development, Press TV reports that Iraqi forces have retaken control of the town of al-Qaim from ISIS terrorists, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced, congratulating the troops on their latest victory against the terrorist group. Abadi issued a congratulatory statement on Friday, hailing the "liberation of al-Qaim in record time".
The advance comes hours after the units from the Iraqi army, Counter-Terrorism Service, Sunni tribal fighters and Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd al-Sha’abi) entered the strategic town in the country’s western Anbar Province near the Syrian border.
On the importance of the latest developments in Iraq and Syria, BBC notes that ISIS had held most of Deir al-Zour since 2014. It was important because of its proximity to the border with Iraq.
On the other hand, al-Qaim was the last sizeable territory held by ISIS in Iraq. The operation to retake the city and the surrounding area was launched last week. Soldiers, police, Sunni tribesmen and mostly Shia forces took part in the assault.
ISIS had designated the area on both sides of the border as its "Euphrates Province" and used it to transfer fighters, weapons and goods between Iraq and Syria.
The cross-border province was also a symbol of the terrorists' intention to eradicate the entire region's frontiers and lay to rest the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement, an emblem of the colonial division of the area resented by many Arabs.
In another analysis, The New York Times writes that the military advances dealt a severe blow to the terrorist group, leaving it with fragments of its self-declared caliphate. They also provided yet another indication that President Bashar al-Assad’s fortunes have rebounded and that, with help from Russian and Iranian allies, the Syrian army can take back territory.
The developments also set the stage for a battle for the Syrian border town of Bukamal, on the strategic highway from Baghdad to Damascus, and what appears to be the end game for the remaining ISIS territory in Iraq and Syria.