IslamNews – Iraq is tightening security along its 600 km (400 mile) border with Syria to curb the movement of Islamic State militants, drug smuggling and other illegal activities.
Iraqi commanders on Monday toured the remote desert frontier controlled by various different forces, including the Iraqi military, Iran-aligned militias, the Syrian army, anti-Damascus rebels, and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.
At an outpost facing into Syria, Lieutenant-General Abdul Amir al-Shammari said the Iraqi side was under the control of state forces and was being more tightly secured, but that the main challenges came from inside Syria.
“One of the biggest challenges is there’s no one single or unified security partner on the Syrian side,” he said.
“In this area, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are across the border – whom we coordinate with via the (U.S.) coalition,” he said, referring to U.S.-backed, Kurdish-dominated paramilitaries battling Islamic State remnants and also opposed to Turkey.
“Further south, there’s the Syrian army, and in some areas beyond that, control by Syrian opposition groups,” Shammari said.
Iraq was stepping up use of high-tech thermal cameras and observation balloons, he said.
Reuters reporters touring the border by air with the military saw diggers making deeper trenches along large sections of the Iraqi side of the frontier, which is sparsely peppered with border guard towers, earth berms and metal fences.