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IRAQ WARS
Iraqi forces advance to edge of final IS bastion Al-Qaim
by Staff Writers
Habbaniyah, Iraq (AFP) Oct 31, 2017


Russia says its submarine fired missiles at IS base in Syria
Moscow (AFP) Oct 31, 2017 - Russia said Tuesday its submarine deployed in the Mediterranean fired three ballistic missiles to destroy a command post of the Islamic State group in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province.

"A missile strike with three Kalibr missiles destroyed a command post with large numbers of militants and armed vehicles and also a large weapons and ammunition depot," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement posted on Facebook.

It said the strikes targeted the area around the town of Abu Kamal, one of the few remaining urban strongholds of IS in Syria.

The ministry added it could confirm "the destruction of all the given targets."

It posted a video on Twitter of a missile blasting out of the sea.

There have been heavy clashes between the Syrian army and the Islamic state group in the city of Deir Ezzor, capital of the Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria.

Russia said Tuesday that its Veliky Novgorod submarine has carried out four cruise missile strikes on terrorist groups since it was deployed to the Mediterranean in late August.

At Russia's Syrian naval base of Tartus in the eastern Mediterranean, Russian ships have played a prominent role backing up an aerial bombing campaign in support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

The submarines are covered from Syria by Moscow's S-300 and S-400 missiles systems and its Bastion coastal defence system.

More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

Iraqi forces on Tuesday battled up to the edge of Al-Qaim, the largest town still held by the Islamic State group in the country, as they pushed a final assault on the jihadists.

Iraq's Joint Operations Command said government troops -- backed by US air strikes and Sunni tribal fighters -- captured the village of Al-Obeidi, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) 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 centre of Al-Qaim," it said in a statement.

Al-Qaim and the surrounding pocket of barren desert territory along the Euphrates river is now the last remnant in the country of the self-styled caliphate IS declared after rampaging across Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Iraq launched the offensive on the Al-Qaim region -- which also includes the smaller town of Rawa -- on Thursday to finish off a punishing campaign that saw it force the jihadists out their major urban stronghold Mosul in July.

Al-Obeidi was "one of the most important locations for IS fighters, who were there in great numbers," local tribal militia commander Qatari al-Obeidi told AFP.

"They had arms caches and production lines for making explosives and preparing suicide bombers."

Since the start of the offensive last week government forces have also retaken a cement plant and phosphate processing facility, said operation commander General Abdel Amir Yarallah.

As Iraq makes its final push, IS is also battling for survival against competing offensives backed by the US and Russia in territory just over the porous border in Syria.

Long before the rise of IS, Al-Qaim became renowned as a hotbed of jihadist insurgency in the wake of the US-led invasion in 2003.

The roughly 150,000 people living in the Al-Qaim region -- with 50,000 inside the town itself -- are Sunni Muslims from a small number of influential tribes.

Under IS, the town has been a vital supply route between its forces in Iraq and the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor it once dominated over the border in Syria.

IRAQ WARS
Iraq forces advance in 'last den' of IS jihadists
Habbaniyah, Iraq (AFP) Oct 26, 2017
Iraqi forces on Thursday recaptured from the Islamic State group several military bases and villages as they launched a push to wipe out remnants of the jihadists' self-styled caliphate in the country. The start of the keenly awaited offensive that the US-led coalition fighting IS has dubbed "the last big fight" of the campaign came even as Iraqi troops launched a new operation against the K ... read more

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