Iraq to Open Border-Crossing With Syria on Monday
Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has approved the reopening on Monday of the Qaim border-crossing with Syria, state news agency INA said, the latest sign of normalization between Baghdad and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
The crossing will be reopened for travelers and trade, INA reported on Friday, citing Iraq’s border agency chief.
The US, Israel, and others have expressed grave concern that Iran will use the Syrian-Iraq border to further its efforts to create a “land bridge” to the Mediterranean in order to further its expansionist ambitions.
The western Anbar province town of Qaim, 300 km (185 miles) west of Baghdad, was recaptured from Islamic State in November 2017 and was the group’s last bastion in Iraq to fall.
It borders the Syrian town of Albu Kamal, which was also an Islamic State stronghold. The towns lie on a strategic supply route and the crossing between them had only been open for government or military traffic.
Islamic State in 2014 seized vast swathes of land in both Iraq and Syria, declaring a caliphate across both countries. Iraq declared victory over the group in 2017 and it lost its last territory in Syria earlier this year.
Iraq’s government recently called for the reinstatement of Syria’s membership in the Arab League, which was suspended in 2011 over its crackdown on protesters at the start of Syrian civil war.