Iraqi forces attack Islamic State in Syria border area


Iraqi armed forces on Saturday dislodged the Daesh terror group from a natural gas-rich border area with Syria, according to the military.

"The army, the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation force), tribal units and the police captured Akashat", the Joint Operations Command leading the fight against ISIS said in a statement.

The capture of Akashat, a former mining town in mainly Sunni Arab Anbar province, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of the jihadists' border bastion of Al-Qaim, came just hours after the forces assaulted it.

"Mop-up operations are still under way", the centre added in a statement without further details. Gen. Yahya Rasool, says the USA -led coalition is offering aerial support for different factions of troops.

The cross-border "caliphate" declared by Islamic State in 2014 effectively collapsed in July, when a US-backed Iraqi offensive captured Mosul, the militants' capital in Iraq.

Saturday's attack is seen as a prelude for an expected Iraqi campaign aimed at expelling Islamic State from the last chunks of territory the militant group still controls along the border with war-torn Syria.

Islamic State still controls Hawija in Iraq's oil-rich province of Kirkuk and western areas in the country's largest province of Anbar.

Two different alliances are also advancing on Islamic State position on the Syrian side of the border there - Syrian government forces supported by Russian air strikes and Iran-backed militias, and a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters.

In recent months, Islamic State has suffered a series of military setbacks and lost ground in Iraq and Syria.