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US-backed forces launch campaign
along Iraq-Syria border

The New Syrian Army heralded the start of a campaign in both Iraq's Anbar Province and Syria's Deir Ezzor.

New Syrian Army fighters. (Twitter/New Syrian Army)

BEIRUT – A shadowy US-backed force fighting ISIS in the eastern desert stretches of Syria has announced the start of a new campaign along the border with Iraq in conjunction with tribal forces in the Anbar province.

 

“New Syrian Army forces are moving from Al-Tanf camp to start a major battle,” a spokesperson for the Free Syrian Army-affiliated group announced early Tuesday afternoon on Facebook.

 

The spokesperson did not elaborate further on where exactly the operation was taking place, keeping with the New Syrian Army’s policy of avoiding publicity and maintaining strict operational security.

 

His post was published shortly after a New Syrian Army social media account heralded the start of an offensive on the Iraqi side of the border aimed at seizing the town of Al-Qaim, which lies across the border from Syria’s Al-Boukamal, as well as Rawa, a town approximately 80-kilometers eastward along the Euphrates River.

 

Anbar forces

An image uploaded by a New Syrian Army-affiliated Facebook accounts purports to show forces in Iraq's Anbar preparing for a major offensive. 

 

The announcement did not go into specifics on the two-pronged offensive, saying only that tribal forces in Iraq’s Anbar province as well as state counterterrorism forces were being backed by coalition airstrikes in the Iraqi side of the border.

 

Another social media account affiliated with the group, for its part, posted a message claiming the group was preparing to storm Al-Boukamal under the direction of its commander Colonel Muhannad al-Talaa.

 

Meanwhile, a video posted by the pro-rebel Qasioun News purporting to show the New Syrian Army’s Talaa being driven outside Al-Boukamal.

 

 

“Whether they like it or not, we will enter Al-Boukamal and we will liberate Deir al-Zour, God willing,” the narrator of the video boasts.

 

Earlier in the day the New Syrian Army posted it posted a series of propaganda cartoons touting that its forces were “coming” for ISIS and would “treat the cancer” of the transnational jihadist group.

 

Cartoon

One of the cartoons circulated by the New Syrian Army. 

 

The operation comes after Russian jets on June 16 targeted a New Syrian Army meeting in a camp outside Tanf, a desert town taken by the group from ISIS in early March 2016.

 

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the strikes hit the camp during a meeting between the New Syrian Army and Iraqi tribal forces as well its local Syrian allies, the Jaysh Usud al-Sharqiya, as the parties coordinated their strategies to battle ISIS.

 

The New Syrian Army made headlines earlier in June when The Times reported that British special forces based in Jordan were crossing the border into Syria to aid the FSA faction.

 

“They helped us with logistics, like building defenses to make the bunkers safe,” an officer in the fighting force told the newspaper.

 

NOW's English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Amin Nasr translated Arabic-language material. 

New Syrian Army fighters. (Twitter/New Syrian Army)

Whether they like it or not, we will enter Al-Boukamal and we will liberate Deir al-Zour, God willing.