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US-backed SDF militants don’t stop terrorists from sneaking Syria-Iraq border: Official

This file picture shows US-sponsored militants affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in an unknown location in Dayr al-Zawr, Syria. (Photo by AFP)

A high-ranking Iraqi military official says militants affiliated with the Kurdish-led and US-sponsored Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) do not prevent foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists from crossing border into Iraq.

“SDF members are irregular forces that control the Syrian side of the frontier with Iraq. It is often difficult to have good coordination with them. At times they are exploited by terrorists trying to infiltrate along the border, other times they are either complacent or in a state of weakness to stop infiltration attempts,” the spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji, said in a statement on Thursday.

He added the Iraq–Syria border runs for 610 kilometers (379 miles), noting that watchtowers, surveillance cameras and barbed-wire fences are being installed at the border to seal the last remaining windows for terrorists to sneak across the frontier.

“There is a comprehensive study on the Syrian al-Hawl (refugee) camp and Iraqi nationals being kept in it. Coordination is underway with the SDF to resolve the issue and have achieved good results in this regard,” Khafaji pointed out.

The remarks come as security conditions have been deteriorating in the SDF-controlled areas in Syria’s northern and northeastern provinces of Raqqah, Hasakah and Dayr al-Zawr.

Local Syrians complain that the SDF’s constant raids have generated a state of frustration and instability, severely affecting their businesses and livelihood.

Residents accuse the US-sponsored militants of stealing crude oil and refusing to spend money on service sectors.

Local councils affiliated with the SDF also stand accused of financial corruption.

Iraq urges intl. cooperation as Daesh terror activities intensify

Meanwhile, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein has called for international cooperation to stop Daesh Takfiris amid an uptick in the activities of the terror group.

“Unfortunately, the Daesh terrorist group still exists and it has become more active, compared to the situation we saw several months ago. We know that the group is present in certain areas in the provinces of Anbar, Kirkuk and Diyala, and certain areas in Nineveh [province],” Hussein said in an interview with Russia’s Sputnik news agency on Thursday.

He added,” We have Daesh members who are citizens of different countries [jailed in Iraq].”

The chief Iraqi diplomat noted that the Baghdad government maintains contact with Western European nations on their citizens, who joined Daesh and staged terror attacks in Iraq.

He also stressed that Iraq needs cooperation with foreign intelligence and defense agencies to defeat the terrorists.

“Cells and groups of terrorists are present in certain regions across Iraq ... and this has an influence on the security situation in Iraq, but the situation has changed after Daesh disintegration. However, we need to cooperate with other countries in intelligence, weapons and training,” Hussein stated.

Former Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the Arab country on December 9, 2017.

On July 10 that year, he had formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in Iraq.

In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and fighters from Popular Mobilization Units – better known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha’abi – had made sweeping gains against Daesh.

Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.

Daesh began a terror campaign in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.

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