Iraqi forces attack Islamic State in Syria border area

Iraqi forces attack Islamic State in Syria border area

Iraqi armed forces have managed to drive ISIS out from the region borders with Syria which is rich in natural gas.

Iraqi forces have launched a military operation to liberate from ISIS the small town of Akashat in the west of Anbar province between the towns of Rutba and Qaim, in order to clear the area and secure its northern border.

Al-Qaim and the Euphrates towns of Rawa and Anna downstream form just one of two enclaves still held by ISIS in Iraq after a string of battlefield defeats this year.

An Iraqi military statement said on Saturday Akashat, a desert region located south of the Euphrates river, was captured in an offensive which had been announced earlier in the day.

"The army, the Hashed Al Shaabi and the border guard launched a major operation to liberate Akashat and secure the border to its north", said General Abdelamir Yarallah, head of the Joint Operations Command for the campaign against ISIL.

Iranian-backed Shia paramilitary forces known as Popular Mobilization and Sunni tribal fighters known as Tribal Mobilization took part in the offensive, it added.

Akashat, in Iraq's far west, is rich in minerals, including phosphates.

The area was used to house weapons warehouses, training camps, workshops to build improvised explosive devices, and command and control center by ISIS.

Iraqi commanders estimate that ISIL still has more than 1,500 fighters in its Al Qaim enclave.

A promised offensive against ISIL there has been delayed by a row over a controversial referendum on Kurdish independence planned for later this month.