Iraqi forces in control of Al-Qaim city near Syrian border

Air Commodore Johnny Stringer today warned the idea that British jihadis who went to the Islamic State war zone did not know what they were doing is'fanciful

Last month, USA -backed militias declared victory in Raqqa, Islamic State's former headquarters in Syria, after months of fighting for the city with the help of the US -led coalition.

Welcoming the offensive, the US -led worldwide military coalition, which has run an air campaign against the Islamic State group in both Syria and Iraq since 2014, said in a statement that approximately 1,500 Islamic State fighters were estimated to remain in the immediate vicinity of al-Qaim.

He estimated that there were 1,500 to 2,500 fighters left in Al-Qaim and 2,000 to 3,000 in Al-Bukamal.

But both the Iraqi and Syrian governments and their global backers say they worry that the fighters will still be able to mount guerrilla attacks once they no longer have territory to defend.

"Army troops backed by Hashd al-Shaabi fighters and Arab tribal volunteers have completely liberated Al-Qaim's city center", Anadolu news agency quoted Colonel Walid al-Duleimi as saying. "The Iraqi national flag has been raised over the city's local government headquarters", he said.




Syrian government forces and their pro-government allies first broke the militant group's siege of their part of the city in September and have been advancing against ISIS positions since then. The battle has been ferocious, with heavy Russian air strikes and Syrian artillery fire leaving much of the city in ruins.

Iraqi forces launched the operation last week to seize Al-Qaim and its surroundings, a pocket of barren desert along the Euphrates river near the border with Syria.

Gaining control of Deir Ezzor was a significant victory for the Syrian government, and followed ISIS' ousting from Raqqa, the de facto capital of the caliphate.

The 53-page report, produced by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, could be used for war crimes prosecutions.

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