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The New Arab

Nine Iraqis killed in IS attack near Jordan border

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have been backing Iraqi forces to fight IS [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 16 August, 2016

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At least nine people, including one civilian, were killed on Tuesday in an attack by the Islamic State group targeting an Iraqi border guard base near Jordanian borders.

Fighters of the Islamic State group attacked an Iraqi border guard base near Jordan on Tuesday, killing at least nine people before being beaten back, officers said.

The early morning attack involved heavy mortar fire and saw clashes between extremists and border guards defending their position near Rutba, the last town on the desert road before the Trebil border crossing.

"Elements from the Daesh (IS) gangs attacked the 2nd regiment of the border guard, which is located on the highway between Rutba and Trebil," a colonel in the border guard said.

"We clashed for several hours."

The Joint Operations Command which coordinates Iraq's fight against IS said nine people were killed - eight members of the border guard and a civilian.

The colonel said 17 border guards were also wounded in the attack, which occurred in the westernmost part of Anbar province, some 450 kilometres (280 miles) from Baghdad.

"Several Daesh fighters were also killed and they were forced to withdraw. The base has remained under border guard control," the officer said.

"The 2nd regiment is under our control, they did not manage to take it, our troops fought back," said Major General Ammar al-Kubaysi, the border guard commander.

Rutba, a small town with significant strategic value given its location on the road to Jordan, was recaptured from IS in May this year.

Liberating Mosul

The attack comes one day after Iraqi government forces – backed by Kurdish Peshmerga forces - gained new grounds in an IS-held town in Mosul, the group's last remaining bastion in the country.

Colonel Chris Garver, a Baghdad-based spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, said coalition advisers had been helping Peshmerga forces in an advisory role on the ground.

[Click to enlarge]

"The coalition is providing support to the Peshmerga operation, which is designed to expand the lines of communication south of Mosul and to deny ISIL freedom of mobility," Garver said, using another common acronym for Islamic State.

Coalition warplanes had been providing air support, but as of Monday morning, no strikes were called in, he added, describing the Peshmerga advances as "shaping operations" for the eventual push on Mosul.

In June, Iraqi forces retook Fallujah, another IS bastion that is 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Baghdad, and Mosul is the next major target for the myriad forces battling IS in Iraq.

IS fighters still hold towns near the border with Syria and militants units scattered across the vast province continue to harass Iraqi forces on a daily basis.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed to retake Mosul, which has been under IS control for more than two years, and rid the country of IS by the end of 2016.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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