Iraq forces defeat IS jihadists in town of Al-Qaim
BAGHDAD - Iraqi forces Friday captured the biggest town under Islamic State group control in Iraq, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said, driving another nail into the coffin of the jihadists' self-styled caliphate.
Abadi hailed the "liberation of Al-Qaim in record time" in a statement, just hours after Iraqi troops backed up by local Sunni tribal militia fighters entered the key town on the border with Syria.
The fall of Al-Qaim leaves IS fighters in Iraq holding just the smaller neighbouring town of Rawa and surrounding pockets of barren desert along the Euphrates river.
That is all that remains in the country from the vast swathes of territory that the group seized in 2014 as it rampaged across Iraq and neighbouring Syria.
The US-led coalition supporting Iraqi forces with air strikes had predicted that the battle for Al-Qaim would be the "last big fight" of the punishing military campaign to dismantle their brutal experiment in statehood.
But the town appeared to have fallen in lightning time after commanders announced that Iraqi troops pushed into the town of some 50,000 inhabitants on Friday morning.