Just days after capturing the Syrian side of the Al Waleed border crossing in Homs province, the Islamic State now controls the Iraqi side of the border crossing.
Quoting an Iraqi official, AFP reported that “Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State) early this morning took control of the Al Waleed post on the border between Iraq and Syria after the withdrawal of the army and the Iraqi border police.” The official went on to say that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) personnel withdrew to the Trebil border crossing with Jordan. Another Iraqi official told the French news agency that “there was no military support for the security forces and there weren’t enough of them to protect the crossing.” The crossing was also reportedly captured after the Islamic State launched two suicide bombings on the complex.
With the capturing of Al Waleed, the governments of Syria and Iraq have lost all control of the border crossings between the two countries. The Islamic State also controls the Albu Kamal/Al Qaim crossing in Syria’s Deir al Zour and Iraq’s Anbar province, while the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) control the al Yarobiyyi/Rabia crossing with Syria’s Al Hasakah and Iraq’s Ninewa provinces. The Iraqi military was said to have been sending reinforcements to the Iraqi side of the border in recent days, but it is unclear if those troops made it to the crossing in time or are still on the way.
The Al Walid border crossing was previously captured by the Islamic State along with the nearby Trebil border crossing with Jordan on June 22, 2014. The two crossings were subsequently retaken by the Iraqi military just days later.
However, the two locations remained a target for the jihadist group. On Nov. 25, the Islamic State launched a suicide attack on the Trebil crossing, killing or wounding at least six Iraqi Army personnel. On Dec. 23, the Islamic State attacked the Al Waleed crossing, killing five members of the Iraqi Border Police. The jihadist group subsequently released photographs from the battle. The Iraqi government still maintains control over the Trebil crossing.
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