Syria, Iraq troops link at border for first time in years

Syrian troops and allied militias met with Iraqi forces at a checkpoint along its shared border Sunday for the first time in many years, at a stage described as a major achievement by the Syrian armed forces in their struggle Against the Islamic state group. The development reported by the media in favor of the government on Sunday came a day after Iraqi forces captured a border crossing with Syria, al-Waleed, IS activists. It was not entirely clear whether Syrian forces have reached a new point on their border with Iraq or whether Iraqi forces have moved northeast of their newly captured points.

The US-led coalition said it was aware of Iraqi forces’ operations along the border, which emphasizes Baghdad’s desire to fight IS. The maneuvers have no impact on the United States presence in the area, a colonel coalition said. A map of the central military media along with the Syrian government showed Syrian soldiers on the border with Iraq, northeast of the border crossing of Al-Waleed with Syria.
Lebanese television Al Manar linked to Hezbollah, the militia that fought alongside the Syrian government, said Syrian and Iraqi soldiers were bounded border after the Syrian army has seized a new territory in its campaign in the Syrian desert.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the British war observation group, said that Iraqi forces have moved north-east of Al-Waleed for the first time since 2015, with pro-Syrian forces. Boundaries were controlled by the SI ever since.
A Syrian general on the pro-government television channel Al-Ikhbariya said the campaign in recent weeks has seized 25,000 square kilometers (9,600 square miles), reaching the border with Iraq, calling it a “qualitative operation.” “It is a sign of cooperation between the Iraqi and Syrian military fraternal leadership to secure the shared border,” the general in favor of unnamed state television said.

The general was interviewed in the desert, in an area supposed to be in front of where the Iraqi forces are. Syrian officials recently met with representatives of Defense in Iraq.
The general said the meeting point of the Iraqi and Syrian forces northeast of Tanf an area where US troops and Syrian opposition fighters are located, and where they have recently surrounded themselves with pro-Syrian forces sponsored by Iran.

Colonel Joe Scrocca, the coalition’s public affairs director, said that the decisions of the Iraqi security forces are “alone”, but they advise the US-led coalition of its operations. “The operation of the Iraqi security force at the al-Waleed crossing demonstrates once again its desire to defeat (IS) throughout Iraq,” Scrocca said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “This operation has no impact on the training operations of Al Tanf coalition partners.”

Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman said that the relationship between Iraqi and Syrian forces would allow Iraqi combatants, including pro-Iranian militias to move within Syria, by joining the Syrian government’s campaign against IS bastions in Syria. East of Syria, Deir el-Zour. Syrian troops advanced against the positions are in the desert for weeks.

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