Iraq and Syria tighten security along 600km border

Security meeting between two sides in Baghdad aimed at thwarting terror activities

A member of the Iraqi security forces stands guard at the Iraq-Syria border. Reuters
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Security was tightened on Monday along the Iraq-Syria border to prevent acts of smuggling and to thwart terrorist activities, officials said.

Iraq, whose border with Syria is more than 600 kilometres long, is building a wall to stop members of ISIS from infiltrating its territory.

The increase in security occurred as a Syrian delegation visited Baghdad on Monday to conduct a meeting with Iraqi officials.

“A meeting was held to discuss securing the mutual borders between the two countries, strengthening co-operation to prevent any terrorist attempt to tamper with security, and continuing the fortification operations accomplished by the Border Guard Command on the Iraqi side,” Border Guard Commander Lt Gen Hamid Al Husseini said.

During the past few years, “Iraq has exerted efforts to secure its borders and prevent any smuggling attempts”, Lt Gen Al Husseini said.

“As of now, Iraqi borders are safe and stable as it has an integrated monitoring system, which includes fences, a concrete wall and 24-hour thermal surveillance cameras,” he added.

Iraq has stepped up efforts in recent years to secure its borders after ISIS took over about a third of Syria and 40 per cent of Iraq in 2014.

In 2018, Baghdad said it had begun building a fence along the border to stop ISIS fighters from entering from Syria, where the group has had more success rebuilding after withering in Iraq.

Although Iraq declared victory against ISIS in late 2017, fighters loyal to the group have continued to conduct attacks across the country.

Over the same period, Iran-backed forces in a government-linked umbrella organisation called the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) have a presence in the border areas around the town of Al Qaim on the Iraqi side and Albu Kamal in Syria.

Iran-backed militias established a foothold in Syria while fighting in support of President Bashar Al Assad during the civil war that began in 2011, but have since turned their attention to smuggling weapons into the country, including missile systems that could be used against Israel.

The groups have also frequently clashed with US and allied Syrian Kurdish forces, who are securing territory retaken from ISIS.

Tehran has said it stationed its forces in Syria at the invitation of Damascus and they are only present as advisers.

Since the war started, however, hundreds of Iranian personnel have been killed.

Updated: September 19, 2022, 3:31 PM