Iraqi forces launched an offensive on Saturday to capture Rawa, the last remaining town under ISIS control, leaving the extremist organization’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” on the verge of complete defeat.
Two Iraqi infantry divisions and tribal forces are participating in the offensive to recapture Rawa and its surrounding areas along the border with Syria, the Joint Operations Command said in a statement.
The defeat of militants in Rawa would mark the end of ISIS’ era of territorial rule over the so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.
Syrian forces declared victory over the militants on Thursday, after seizing the last substantial town on the border with Iraq.
The forces and their allies were still fighting ISIS in desert areas near Albu Kamal, the last town the militant group had held in Syria.
Last week, Iraqi forces recaptured the larger town of al-Qaim, in what Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called "record time", leaving just a few small pockets of land in ISIS hands, including Rawa and surrounding scraps of desert.
The region has been known as a hotbed of insurgency and smuggling since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, long before the arrival of ISIS in 2014.