Iraq reopens Al Qaim border crossing with Syria | Iraq News

A border crossing on a vital highway linking the capitals of Iraq and Syria has reopened five years after it was seized by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

Iraqi security forces retook the border post near the town of Al Qaim in late 2017 as part of a major operation backed by an international coalition against the fighters’ self-proclaimed “caliphate”.

Close to the Euphrates River in Iraq’s restive Anbar province, Al Qaim faces Al Bukamal in Syria’s vast eastern region of Deir Az Zor.

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

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from the border post, said the Syrian ambassador to Iraq and its interior minister walked across the border on Monday and met with an Iraqi government representative.

“This is being seen as a success story for the Iraqis,” he said. “Iraq wants to see this trade route into Syria reopened and they are going to reopen two more border crossings with Syria in the coming weeks.”

He said the development had wider regional implications as well. 

“The idea that the Iraqis and Syrians, who traditionally have had very good relations, are reopening these border crossings, the Syrians are encouraging embassies to reopen in Damascus. They want to normalise relations with their neighbours,” he said.

View of Iraqi-Syrian border in Al Qaim

ISIL launched an offensive in the summer of 2014, capturing swathes of Syria and northern Iraq [Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters]

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

The roughly 600km (370 miles) frontier runs through desert and mountains, making it extremely difficult to control.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

source.



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