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Syria’s Assad authorizes Iraqi forces to strike ISIS in Syria

Iraqi Air Force jets take part in a military parade in Baghdad, Iraq. (HADI MIZBAN / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO)
Syrian President Bashar Assad authorized Iraqi forces on Sunday to attack ISIS inside Syria without waiting for permission from authorities in Damascus, the state news agency SANA said, as the two allies co-ordinate their fight against extremists ahead of a planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria.

The announcement highlights the close relations between the two neighboring Arab countries. ISIS once controlled large parts of both countries when it declared a caliphate in 2014.

Iraqi warplanes and artillery have in the past pounded ISIS positions inside Syria after getting the green light from Syrian authorities.

The extremists have been announced defeated in Iraq but still hold a small area in Syria close to the Iraqi border.

On Saturday, Assad received a letter from Iraq’s Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi calling for both countries’ co-ordination in “fighting terrorism.”

President Donald Trump announced earlier this month that the U.S. will withdraw all of its 2,000 forces in Syria. The main U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces has expressed concerns that the U.S. plans to pull out could lead to the revival of IS saying that the extremists have not been defeated yet in Syria.