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Iraqi Forces Recapture Town, Several Villages From IS

A Syrian tank in action near the Iraqi border.
A Syrian tank in action near the Iraqi border.

Iraqi forces have recaptured a city and several villages from Islamic State (IS) militants on the same day Syrian opposition activists said IS regained control of the Syrian town of Al-Bukamal after fierce fighting with government troops.

Iraqi commander Abdelamir Yarallah said the town of Rumana and 10 other nearby villages were liberated from IS on November 11.

Rumana, on the north side of the Euphrates River, was liberated in a major offensive by government troops and allied militia to retake the last pocket of IS-held territory in Iraq, the commander said.

Meanwhile, Al-Bukamal, just across the Syrian border, reportedly fell back to IS on November 11, two Syrian opposition activists said.

Rami Abdurrahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights said that Syrian government forces and their allies “are now between one to two kilometers from the city limits."

On November 9, the Syrian army said in a statement that it had "liberated" Al-Bukamal, the last urban IS-stronghold in Syria. IS militants withdrew from Al-Bukamal and launched a counteroffensive over the past two days.

Omar Abu Laila, a Europe-based Syrian opposition activist, said IS fighters are now once again in control of the town.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian government.

IS has suffered a string of defeats at the hands of separate but simultaneous offensives in Iraq and Syria by the Russian-backed Syrian forces and allied militias as well as U.S.-backed Iraqi and Syrian fighters.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP