May 31, 2017

IRAQI-SYRIAN BORDER (Reuters) – An Iraqi Shi’ite force backed by Iran said on Wednesday (May 31) it continued its advance towards the Iraqi-Syrian border.

The Popular Mobilisation force (Hashd al-Shaabi) said it pushed Islamic State out of several villages along the Syrian border and released videos of the fighting.

The territory it has recently taken is located north of the Islamic State-held town of Baaj, in the vicinity of the main road linking the Iraqi northern town of Mosul with Syria.

A field commander from the Popular Mobilisation force said he was confident the whole area would soon be under their control, giving them control of the Syrian borders.

The manoeuvre could be the prelude to a connection with the Iranian-backed forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, although they are yet to reach the Iraqi border from the Syrian side. This would give Assad a significant advantage in fighting the six-year rebellion against his rule.