Iraqi forces recapture last Islamic State-held town to end 'Caliphate'
Baghdad: The Iraqi army retook the last town in the country still held by the Islamic State group on Friday as the jihadists' self-proclaimed "Caliphate" faced collapse on both sides of the border with Syria.
The lightning recapture of the small Euphrates valley town of Rawa in an offensive launched at dawn came as the jihadists were also under attack for a second day in the last town they still hold in Syria, Albu Kamal just over the border.
The Islamic State group (IS) has lost 95 per cent of the cross-border "caliphate" it declared in Iraq and Syria in 2014, the US-led coalition fighting it said on Wednesday.
Its losses include all of its major bastions, virtually confining it to pockets of countryside.
Government troops and paramilitary units "liberated the whole of Rawa and raised the Iraqi flag on all of its official buildings," General Abdelamir Yarallah of Iraq's Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.
An army general contacted by AFP at the front had predicted that the battle would be swift as "the majority of IS fighters who were in the town have fled towards the Syrian border."
The JOC said appeals had been made for several days to the town's Sunni Arab residents to listen to radio broadcasts for instructions on what to do when the army entered.
Rawa was bypassed in an offensive by the Iraqi army that resulted in the recapture of the strategically important border town of Al-Qaim earlier this month.