Iraqi govt forces advance to edge of final ISIS bastion al-Qaim

Iraqi forces Tuesday battled up to the edge of al-Qaim, the largest town still held by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in the country, as they pushed a final assault on the extremists. Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said government troops - backed by US airstrikes and Sunni tribal fighters - captured the village of al-Obeidi, some 20km from the Syrian border on the eastern outskirts of the town. IS fighters resisted the advance of the troops, “but the majority retreated to positions in the center of al-Qaim,” it said, as cited by AFP. Al-Qaim and the surrounding pocket of barren desert territory along the Euphrates River is now the last remnant in the country of the caliphate IS declared in Iraq and Syria in 2014.