Syrian army reach Iraqi border, announce 'strategic turning point’ in war on ISIS
The Syrian army, in cooperation with its allies, have taken control of a vast territory in southeastern Syria, reaching the border "with friendly Iraq," Syrian military officials have announced, describing it as a decisive moment in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
"This achievement is a strategic turning point in the war on terrorism and a springboard to expand military operations in the Badia [region in southeast Syria] and along the border with the friendly Iraq," a Saturday statement from the General Command said, as quoted by the state Syrian news agency, SANA.
In cooperation with its allies, the Syrian army reached the border northeast of al-Tanf crossing on Friday evening, the command said in the statement. It added that the move signals the "first stage of the military operations" in the region.
The offensive had been launched south and east of Palmyra, Syrian military officials said. After hundreds of IS terrorists had been killed there, forces proceeded to the Iraqi border, having retaken a large number of strategic points and positions within the territory which covers over 20 square kilometers in Badia.
The latest advance establishes a bridgehead for further anti-terrorist operations along the border, as it "tightens the noose around remaining ISIS groups" in the area. It further cuts IS supply routes from several directions.
The successful operation underlines the ability and determination of the Syrian army to defeat jihadists, and demonstrates that it is the "only effective force in fighting terrorism," the Syrian command said.
Pro-Syrian government forces have recently been targeted by the US-led coalition in that region, with Washington claiming that they represented a threat to opposition groups backed by the US.
In its statement Saturday, the Syrian command reiterated it saw such US-led attacks as an attempt to "hinder the advance of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies in their war on terrorism."