IS Militants Recapture Syrian Town Near Iraqi Border

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A media outlet linked to the Syrian military says the Islamic State group's leader may be holed up in an IS pocket in the eastern town of Boukamal, which government forces and their allies recaptured this week. "Our armed forces units, in cooperation with allied and auxiliary forces, have liberated the town of Albu Kamal in Deir Ezzor province", a statement carried by the official SANA news agency said.

It is believed ISIL fighters are holding 10,000 civilians hostage in the town of Rawa.

The Euphrates valley town of Rawa and nearby villages were bypassed by government troops and allied militia when they retook the Syrian border town of Al-Qaim last week.

Rumana is on the north side of the Euphrates just across from Al Qaim, while the small town of Rawa lies downstream.

Russian-backed Syrian regime forces and allied fighters had steadily advanced on Albu Kamal from the south and west for weeks, while Iraqi forces had closed in on the border area from the east.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during a visit to city of Karbala today said that Iraqi forces were launching an operation to push Daesh out of a patch on the western edge near the border with Syria.

The recapture of the Rawa pocket would mark the final battleground defeat of IS in Iraq and sound the death knell of the sprawling "caliphate" the group declared in 2014 over a swathe of Iraq and Syria the size of Britain.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and Omar Abu Laila, a Europe-based opposition activist, however, denied the report that al-Baghdadi is in Boukamal.

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