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Iraqi PM declares al-Qaim liberated from IS after lightning offensive Open in fullscreen

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Iraqi PM declares al-Qaim liberated from IS after lightning offensive

US-backed Iraq forces liberated al-Qaim in a lightning offensive [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 November, 2017

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has declared the last major town under control of Islamic State extremists, al-Qaim, has been liberated.

Iraqi forces have retaken al-Qaim, the biggest town under Islamic State group control in Iraq, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on Friday.

Abadi hailed the "liberation of al-Qaim in record time" in a statement, after Iraqi troops backed by Sunni tribal militia fighters entered the key town on the border with Syria on Friday morning.

The fall of al-Qaim leaves IS fighters in Iraq holding just the smaller neighbouring town of Rawa and surrounding pockets of barren desert along the Euphrates river.

That is all that remains in the country from the vast swathes of territory that the group seized in 2014 as it rampaged across Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

Government forces launched the operation last week to seize al-Qaim and its surroundings.

Al-Qaim is a major city in IS's "caliphate"
[click to enlarge]

Also on Friday, the Syrian regime announced its forces had seized IS's last stronghold in Syria, Deir az-Zour.

The Iraq Report is a weekly feature at The New Arab.

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