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Security |

Iraq, Syria reopen major border crossing retaken from ISIS

By AFP

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This photo, taken November 12th, 2018 from al-Qaim in Iraq's Anbar province, shows Syrian regime troops guarding the crossing point of Albu Kamal in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor. [Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP] 

A border crossing on a vital highway linking the capitals of Iraq and Syria, seized by the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) in 2014, re-opened Monday (September 30th).

Iraqi security forces had re-taken the border post near the Anbar province town of al-Qaim in late 2017 as part of a massive operation backed by the international coalition.

On Monday, an AFP video journalist saw trucks hauling cargo across the terminal, which lies on a major highway connecting Baghdad and Damascus.

Situated close to the Euphrates river in Anbar, al-Qaim is directly across the border from Albu Kamal in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province.

It is the only crossing between the two countries controlled by Syrian regime forces on one side and Iraqi federal authorities on the other.

Another crossing was destroyed in fighting, while the rest are controlled by Kurdish forces which have a degree of autonomy in both countries.

The roughly 600-kilometre frontier runs through both desert and mountains, making it extremely difficult to control.

ISIS launched a shock offensive in the summer of 2014, capturing swathes of Syria and northern Iraq and imposing a brutal version of Islamic rule.

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