The Nineveh, Anbar and Jazeera Operations Command units have reinforced their personnel along the Iraqi-Syrian border in order to prevent an infiltration of ISIS elements.
The recent military developments in the north of Syria involving the Turkish military offensive have caused concerns in neighbouring Iraq due to the large number of ISIS-affiliated individuals that are attempting to re-establish terrorist networks across the Syrian-Iraqi border.
The provinces that border Syria to the west include Nineveh and Anbar, where ISIS has formerly had a strong presence, with sleeper cells in the region still active. Hundreds of ISIS members have been held in camps in territories controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), however, the recent Turkish offensive, dubbed by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) as “Operation Peace Spring”, has diminished the capacity of the SDF and the political authorities in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AA) to deal with the ISIS-affiliated individuals, many of whom have escaped from the camps.
Reinforcements sent to the Syrian-Iraqi border under the directives of the Nineveh, Jazeera and Anbar Operations Command are seeking to prevent an influx of ISIS militants into Iraq as a result of the aforementioned break-outs.
The Joint Operations Command in Iraq has stated that “the Iraqi border with the Syrian side is fully secured and any infiltration of terrorists fleeing areas east of the Syrian Euphrates will be doomed to failure”.
The issue of an ISIS break-out in Syria was mentioned as a point of concern in a meeting between UN Security Council members last week. Iraqi President Barham Salih also discussed the risks attached to the proliferation of ISIS militants in the region with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Syrian refugees have also been crossing the border into Iraqi territory as a result of the military clashes in northern Syria.
The withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria has also commenced and there are reports that American troops and vehicles have been seen crossing from Syria into Iraq over the past week.