Two ISIS bridges destroyed in U.S.-led air strikes

Although the strikes do not cut off the militants' route to Iraq, their destruction will make the group's cross-border movements harder

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U.S.-led coalition air strikes destroyed two key bridges used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadist group on Syria’s side of the border with Iraq early Friday, having pounded the militants with 41 strikes the previous day, a monitor and a joint command statement said.

The coalition “destroyed two bridges between the Syrian city of Albu Kamal and the Iraqi border,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“These bridges are strategically important for ISIS’s movements between Albu Kamal and Iraq,” he said.

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Thursday's strikes concentrated on the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, a joint command statement said on Friday. The U.S.-led coalition aims to reduce the freedom of movement of ISIS, who command a large area across the borders of the two conflict-ridden countries.

ISIS seized the city of Albu Kamal and the nearby border crossing in July 2014, linking the group’s territory in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor to areas it controls in Iraq’s western Anbar province.

According to Abdel Rahman, the two bridges leading out of Albu Kamal -- one to the east, and one to the southeast -- were ISIS’s “main routes to the Iraqi border.”

“Using these bridges, it would take ISIS only a few minutes to reach the Iraqi border from Albu Kamal,” he said.

“The strikes do not cut off ISIS’s route to Iraq, but they make ISIS movements there more difficult, because it will take them longer and they will be in view (of the coalition) for a longer period of time,” he added.

The Pentagon confirmed the air raids, saying they had struck IS-held bridges in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province.

“Coalition forces struck multiple Daesh (ISIS) targets in the vicinity of the eastern Syria border to reduce the freedom of movement of Daesh,” said Brigadier General Kevin Killea, chief of staff of the US-led coalition.

“These strikes will have a profound impact on the ability of Daesh in Syria to affect operations in Iraq, particularly in Ramadi,” capital of Anbar province, Killea said.

The coalition launched air strikes on ISIS positions in Syria in September 2014, after the jihadists’ spectacular advances on both sides of the border.

(With Reuters and AFP)