World Media

Iraq begins battle for last IS pocket

Iraq begins battle for last IS pocket

Iraqi forces launched an offensive on Saturday to capture Rawa, the last remaining town under Daesh control leaving the group's self-proclaimed caliphate on the verge of complete defeat.

Syria's state-run television network reported that government forces and allied fighters had recaptured Boukamal on Thursday.

The media outlet announced in a statement on Friday that al-Baghdadi might be hiding in the city of al-Boukamal, which lies on the Euphrates River and the border with Iraq.

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The whereabouts of al-Baghdadi are not known and if he is killed or captured it would be another blow for the organization that has lost more than 90 per cent of lands it once controlled in Iraq and Syria where the group declared a caliphate in June 2014.

"IS fully recaptured Albu Kamal, and regime forces and allied militia are now between one to two kilometres from the city limits", said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Several officers told an AFP reporter in Rumana that Iraqi forces had managed to foil at least two Daesh suicide auto bomb attacks.

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The Syrian army had declared victory in the battle for Albu Kamal but IS fighters pushed back in from the desert to the north where they still control a strip of territory between areas held by government troops and by US-backed Kurdish-led forces.

In September, al-Baghdadi released an audio in which he urged his followers to burn their enemies everywhere and target "media centres of the infidels". USA officials later said they believed he was still alive.

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