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Rudaw

Iraq

Iraq-Syria border is secure, ISIS not a threat, says Ministry of Defence

By Rudaw 8/11/2018
Iraqi forces near Akashat, Anbar in September 2017. File photo: AFP
Iraqi forces near Akashat, Anbar in September 2017. File photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – There is no threat to Iraq from ISIS militants in Syria, said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence, saying the border is well-secured. 

"Iraqi forces are stationed along the border from al-Qaim up to Mosul city,” Maj. Gen. Tahsin al-Khafaji told Iraq’s state media on Thursday. 

"A dirt barricade equipped with thermal security cameras is on the joint Syrian-Iraqi border," he added. 

The border is also under the watch of security forces multiple commands, he explained. 

The Hashd al-Shaabi recently deployed 20,000 fighters to fortify the border.

There is heightened concern in Iraq about the risk from ISIS militants across the border after Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) suspended operations against the jihadist group on October 31, 2018.

The Kurdish-led SDF is leading operations against ISIS in northeastern Syria, in coordination with the international coalition. They temporarily halted their offensive against the group in the Hajin area in the Euphrates River valley after Turkish forces attacked their territory in the north. 

Iraqi forces have coordinated with the SDF, even carrying out airstrikes across the border from al-Qaim, Anbar province. 

Khafaji confirmed Iraq’s Ministry of Defence is coordinating its anti-terror efforts with Turkish and Syrian forces. 

Qassim Mohammed Salih, commander of Jazira operations for the Iraqi army, said last week that artillery and air support are backing forces on the border. 

Soldiers are present along the length of the border and “are fully ready for any emergency… In the event of ISIS members getting close, they will be fully obliterated,” he said. 

Clashes are ongoing in the Euphrates River valley area, despite the SDF ceasing its offensive. 

The coalition killed in airstrikes at least 20 ISIS militants trying to attack an SDF-coalition military base at al-Tank oilfield on Wednesday evening, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. 

ISIS was declared defeated in Iraq last year, but remains a security threat, especially in security gaps between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces in the disputed areas. 

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