Iraqi forces on Friday captured the border town of Rawa, the last remaining town under Islamic State control, signaling the collapse of the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate. Rawa’s capture marks the end of Islamic State’s era of territorial rule over a so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. Iraqi forces “liberated Rawa entirely, and raised the Iraqi flag over its buildings,” Lieutenant General Abdul Ameer Rasheed Yarallah said in a statement from the Joint Operations Command.
Turkey is pulling 40 soldiers out of a NATO exercise in Norway, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, after his name appeared in a list of enemies on a poster at the drill, an incident that drew an apology from both the military alliance and Oslo. Turkey has the second largest army in the alliance after the United States, and it borders Syria, Iraq and Iran, lending it great strategic importance for NATO. But the relationship has become increasingly fractious as Ankara drifts away from the alliance and the European Union, alarming the West.
The Syrian army and its allies took complete control over Albu Kamal, Islamic State’s last significant town in Syria, a military news service run by Hezbollah said on Sunday. The army had declared victory over Islamic State in Albu Kamal earlier this month but the jihadists then staged a counter-attack using sleeper cells hidden in the town. Driving Islamic State from Albu Kamal means only a few villages along the Euphrates and patches of nearby desert, as well as isolated pockets in other parts of the country, remain in Syria of the caliphate it declared in 2014.
At a hospital in the Yemeni city of Marib, demand for artificial limbs from victims of the country’s war is so high that prosthetics are made on site in a special workshop. A soldier with an artificial arm hitches up his robe to reveal a stump where his leg once was. He is angry that authorities have done little to help him since he was wounded. “I was at the front and a mortar exploded near me. We fought well, but now I get no salary, no support from the government or anyone. They just left us,” said Hassan Meigan.
Syria’s army declared victory over Islamic State on Thursday, saying its capture of the jihadists’ last town in the country marked the collapse of their project in the region. The army and its allies are still fighting Islamic State in desert areas near Albu Kamal, the last town the militant group had held in Syria, near the border with Iraq, the army said. But the capture of the town ends Islamic State’s era of territorial rule over the so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across Iraq and Syria and in which millions suffered under its hardline, repressive strictures.
The top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader said he expects the Syrian army to soon recapture rebel-held Idlib province, as well as eastern Syria, an area where U.S.-backed militias hold swathes of territory. Iran is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Iranian official, Ali Akbar Velayati, was speaking in Aleppo, from which the Syrian army drove rebels after a siege last year with help from Tehran. The military alliance backing Assad, which also includes Russia and Shi‘ite Muslim militias, has this year focused on the war in central and eastern Syria against Islamic State (IS) militants.
Hundreds of cars lined the main roads of Yemen’s capital after the rebels who control the city ordered fuel stations to close on Wednesday, accusing merchants of taking advantage of a Saudi blockade to hike prices. A Saudi-led military coalition tightened its blockade in Yemen this week after a ballistic missile fired by Houthi rebels was intercepted near the Saudi capital. Aid groups say the measures will exacerbate an already severe humanitarian crisis in the impoverished, war-torn country.
The United States accused Iran on Tuesday of supplying Yemen’s Houthi rebels with a missile that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July and called for the United Nations to hold Tehran accountable for violating two U.N. Security Council resolutions. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said information released by Saudi Arabia showed the missile fired in July was an Iranian Qiam, which she described as “a type of weapon that had not been present in Yemen before the conflict.”
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said the victories of the Syrian army and its allies against terrorist organizations do not end in Deir al-Zor province where Islamic State has its last significant stronghold, his office reported on Tuesday. He also indicated that he might take the war to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which controls more than a quarter of Syria, by saying the war targeted those who seek to “divide and weaken states”.
Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah.