Al-Qaim border crossing falls to militants led by ISIS.
Militants led by ISIS have reportedly seized a border post at one of the border points between Iraq and Syria, as the situation in Iraq continues to remain unstable.
From Reuters, Iraq militants take Syria-border post in drive for caliphate:
Sunni fighters seized a border post on the Iraq-Syria frontier, security sources said on Saturday, smashing a line drawn by colonial powers almost a century ago with the aim of creating an Islamic Caliphate stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to Iran.
The militants, led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), first moved into the nearby town of al-Qaim on Friday, pushing out security forces, the sources said.
Once border guards heard that al-Qaim had fallen, they left their posts and militants moved in, the sources said.
Sameer al-Shwiali, media adviser to the commander of Iraq’s anti-terrorist squad, told Reuters that the Iraqi army was still in control of al-Qaim.
A senior Iraqi official also said the towns of Rawa, Ana and Huseiba were under the control of militants, according to CNN.
The border crossing of Al-Qaim is significant because of its location, as it would allow militants easier access between Syria and Iraq.
Al-Qaim sits across from Syria’s Deir Ezzor province, where ISIS controls at least three towns, including areas near the military airport of Deir Ezzor, which was the headquarters of the military council for rebel battalions, said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group in London that monitors the Syrian conflict.
“This advancement (in Syria) is considered a very important and strategic step because ISIS has tried to take a complete control over areas in the east of Deir Ezzor in order to reach to the Syrian-Iraqi borders, and then to connect its held areas in both Syria and Iraq with each other,” the opposition group said.
The situation in Iraq has become increasingly unstable in recent days, after insurgents last week overran other parts of the country.
The situation has of course also prompted the U.S. to consider options on how to assist Iraq in dealing with the crisis. While President Obama emphasized Thursday that “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq,” he did announce that we would be sending up to 300 military advisers to the country.
In addition, Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to travel to the Middle East and Europe next week to discuss the stability of the region.
From the Associated Press via FOX News:
Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to the Mideast this weekend to discuss Iraq’s stability as a raging Sunni Muslim insurgency threatens the Shiite-led government.
The U.S. is offering limited assistance to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki but wants him to take dramatic steps to soothe Sunnis who say they have been shut out from his government.
The State Department said Friday Kerry will meet next week with officials in Amman, Jordan, on the border with Iraq.
Officials had said that Kerry planned to visit Iraq soon but did not say when.
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