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 Syria and Iraq FMs discuss reopening borders during Damascus meeting

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PostSubject: Syria and Iraq FMs discuss reopening borders during Damascus meeting   Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:28 am

An Iraqi soldier stands guard in al-Qaim, near the Syrian border, in the Euphrates river valley 200 miles (320 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo: AP/Khalid Mohammed)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem on Sunday highlighted the significance of a quick reopening of the border crossings with Iraq, Syria’s state media reported on Sunday.

Moallem’s remarks came during a meeting with the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, held in Damascus on Sunday evening.

Both foreign officials agreed on the necessity to reopen border gates to improve the flow of goods and facilitate travel between the two neighboring states, according to SANA news agency.

The discussion around the reopening of the crossings comes as the Syrian army and government-affiliated forces have asserted they have cleared and secured large swaths of territory from the Islamic State (IS) along the Syrian border with Iraq.

Earlier in July, Iraqi forces installed cameras and operate regular drone flights on the border to monitor the security situation against threats by the jihadist group.

At the beginning of October, Iraqi force stated that the army had strengthened security and control of the border with Syria to combat any infiltration attempts by IS militants.

Both Syria and Iraq over the past few years have considerably suffered human casualties, insecurity, and infrastructure damage while fighting IS.
Although the jihadist group has lost 98 percent of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, security experts doubt both countries are fit to reopen their borders, notably as IS sleeper cells maintain a presence in the area.

The US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters continue to control border areas in northeastern Syria along the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.

US forces are also present in al-Tanf, located in the southeast, where a key border gate between Syria and Iraq stands.

Al-Qaim is one of the major crossings that is expected to reopen, located in the southeast of Syria’s eastern Deir al-Zor province.

The al-Qaim gate is considered one of the main supply routes across the Middle East, connecting the town of Albu Kamal in Syria to the city of Husaybeh in Iraq’s Qaim district in Anbar province. It is also used as a smuggling point for IS militants, security experts have asserted.

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