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Iraqi militia says it hit IS targets inside Syria

February 7, 2019

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi militias said Thursday they have launched dozens of missiles targeting Islamic State militants holed up in a Syrian village across the border.

The state-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Forces said they fired 50 missiles at targets in Baghouz village, in the last speck of territory held by the extremists.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported shelling from the Iraqi side but had no details on casualties.

Iraq’s military has bombed IS posts inside Syria before, but the militias — many of which are backed by Iran — rarely engage in cross-border shelling. The militias’ social media account claimed to have shelled inside Syria last on Feb. 1.

IS claims to have downed a PMF-operated drone in Baghouz on Wednesday.

Some PMF factions are fighting inside Syria.

IS has lost virtually all the territory it once held in Syria and Iraq. Hundreds of militants are now confined to a small area where they are surrounded by Syrian fighters backed by U.S.-led airstrikes.

U.S. President Donald Trump said the militants will have lost all their territory by next week. He said the U.S. will not relent in fighting remnants of the extremist organization despite his decision to withdraw American troops from Syria over the objections of some of his top national security advisers.

The U.S.-backed fighters on the front lines have slowed operations in recent days to allow civilians to leave the IS-controlled area, but the Observatory said heavy fighting and coalition airstrikes have resumed in the last 24 hours. It said the militants have planted large numbers of land mines to slow the advance.

Over 37,000 people, including over 3,000 militants, have exited the crumbling IS territory since December. Many of those fleeing are foreigners, the Observatory reported.

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