Iraq, Syria reopen major border crossing retaken from IS

Security forces are seen at the Iraqi Syrian border in Al Qaim

Iraq and Syria reopened on Monday the al-Qaim border crossing.

Last October, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem and Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said at a press conference in Syria's capital Damascus that the border crossings between Iraq and Syria should be opened after the major defeat of IS in both countries.

The reopening, he insisted, will facilitate both trade and movement of people between the two countries.

In fact, Iraqi security forces retook the border post in late 2017 as part of a massive operation backed by an worldwide coalition against the militants' self-proclaimed ISIS.

Kazem Al-Aqabi, head of the Iraqi border crossing authority, as well as Syria's Interior Minister Mohammad Rahmoun, inaugurated the border reopening ceremony.

The reopening of the Bukamal-Qaim crossing is important for Syria as it will be an economic gateway that will help satisfy the needs for fuel and other goods, in addition to activating the movement of land exports.

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"Such movement will reflect positively on Anbar, by creating job opportunities and increasing revenues of the province", Hameed said.

On Monday, citing a soon-to-be-published interview, Al Jazeera TV reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said investigations indicate that Israel is responsible for attacks on some PMF positions in Iraq.

The Syrian-Iraqi border points were all closed when the Islamic State (IS) captured areas on both sides of the borders between 2013 and 2014. "He says that he thinks the U.S.is 'holding onto (the main border crossing at) Al-Tanf in order to have a number of bargaining chips when final negotiations (to resolve the Syrian conflict) take place".

A Syrian soldier, with a picture of Syrian President Bashar Assad on his military uniform, organizes crowds during the opening ceremony of the crossing between the Iraqi and Syria, Sept. 30, 2019.

It's also a boost to Iran's influence in the region, allowing Iran-backed militias in Iraq easier access to eastern Syria amid soaring tensions in the region between Iran and the US The opening of the crossing was postponed several times in recent weeks.

It borders the Syrian town of Albukamal, which was also an Islamic State stronghold.

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