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Syrian Rebels ‘Begin Operation’ To Recapture IS-held Town Near Iraqi Border

U.S.-backed Syrian rebels in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor have started an operation to recapture a town held by Islamic State (IS) militants near the Iraqi border, a monitoring group and a rebel commander say.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on June 28 the fighters of the New Syrian Army are close to the town of Bukamal. The monitoring group said IS fighters in the town have been on high alert and shops are closing amid fears of violence.

A rebel commander who didn’t want to be identified told Reuters that “the operation to liberate Bukamal...has started.”

Recapturing the town from IS would hamper the extremist group’s ability to move between the Iraqi and Syrian territories of its self-declared caliphate.

The New Syrian Army was formed some 18 months ago from rebels driven out of eastern Syria by IS forces.

It has received support from the U.S.-backed alliance that is battling IS in Syria and Iraq.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP