Syrian army encircles last IS stronghold-al-Manar


Syria's army and its allies, spearheaded by Lebanon's Hezbollah, captured Islamic State's last stronghold in Syria on Wednesday, a commander in the alliance said, bringing the self-declared caliphate close to complete downfall, Reuters reported. Sana news agency said Syrian and Iraqi forces had met on the border and the town had been surrounded.

Footage aired by the Central Military Media Committee showed the encounter between the two fronts, which included the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, two Iran-backed Shiite Muslim movements. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, however, disputed this account, saying some fighting continued across the town. It is located near al-Qaim, and as Iraqi forces continue to recapture their cities, many predict that it will not take long before ISIS loses their ground on Rawa.

Islamic State has been all but destroyed over the past two years.

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Abadi visited Qaim and the nearby Husaybah border crossing in Western Iraq on Sunday, al-Iraqiya TV said, raising the Iraqi flag. "The CAOC [Combined Air Operation Center in Qatar] essentially controls our air forces in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and other areas, can easily flex our air power day by day to areas as required, and Afghanistan is an example of that".

US -led airstrikes against ISIS are down 60 to 70 percent the past month compared to the previous eight months as the caliphate crumbles in Iraq and Syria and the number of targets decrease "dramatically", according to the deputy commander for air operations against ISIS. Pro-government forces were also mobilized last month to check a failed Kurdish bid for independence.