BEIRUT (Reuters) - An Iraqi Shi’ite militia fighting Islamic State in Iraq near the border with Syria will also take on the jihadist group in the Syria border town of Albu Kamal, the militia’s spokesman was quoted as saying on Friday.
Jaafar Hussaini, the spokesman for the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia, one of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) fighting alongside the Iraqi army against Islamic State, was speaking to Lebanese television channel al-Mayadin.
Hussaini said the Iraqi resistance forces, a euphemism for Iran-backed Shi’ite militias, would take part in the battle against Islamic State in Syria’s Albu Kamal because it borders Iraq, Al-Mayadin reported.
On Friday Iraqi forces, including PMF, took the Iraqi border town of al-Qaim, near Albu Kamal, from Islamic State.
The Syrian army and allied Iran-backed Shi’ite militias, supported by Russian air power, are approaching Albu Kamal as part of their own offensive against the Islamic State enclave straddling the border between Syria and Iraq.
“Albu Kamal is in missile range of the Iraqi forces in al-Qaim. The presence of our forces on the border with Albu Kamal means there will be a new front in the confrontation with Daesh,” Hussaini said using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
The Syrian army and its allies are advancing towards Albu Kamal across the desert southwest of the city and along the Euphrates river from the northwest.
Te Syrian government declared victory over Islamic State in Deir al-Zor, the biggest city in eastern Syria, on Friday after two months of battle.
Reporting by Angus McDowall; editing by Alexander Smith