'Caliphate' tunnels link Iraq and Syria below the borders

'Caliphate' tunnels link Iraq and Syria below the borders
2 min read
27 November, 2015
The Islamic State group has excavated at least 40 tunnels on the border between Iraq and Syria, according to a report prepared by the Iraqi Ministry of Defence.
The Iraqi-Syria border has been erased by IS for about 500km of the frontier [AFP]
Islamic State group territory in Iraq and Syria is linked by at least 40 cross-border tunnels, an Iraqi ministry of defence report revealed on Thursday.

The tunnels link the northern Anbar and Nineveh provinces of Iraq with al-Bukamal and Deir Ez-Zour in Syria, according to the report prepared "in collaboration with the international coalition via the joint operations room in Baghdad", according to a senior Iraqi intelligence figure.

IS dug the tunnels using modern earthworking equipment that the group reportedly seized from a company named Tishreen that is allegedly affiliated with the Syrian regime.

"Each tunnel is nearly two metres in diameter and is three to seven kilometres long, and concealed well," said our intelligence source.

If IS loses control of border crossings, the tunnels would provide a crucial link between the two territories the militant group now controls.

IS controls more than 500km of the 600km border that stretches from Anbar in the west to Nineveh in the north. Iraqi and Coalition forces have recently stepped up strikes against IS in Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province.

Cutting off IS supply lines and isolating the two wings of the organisation in Iraq and Syria have been the focus of international coalition meetings.
IS controls more than 500km of the 600km border along Anbar and Nineveh provinces

Anbar Provincial Council head Sabah al-Karhout said that the difficult task of separating the borders between the two countries would be the beginning of solving the problem as open borders constitute an advantage for the group and guarantee a continuous supply line for IS in each country.

The commander of the Rapid Deployment Force in western Iraq, General Ahmad Yaseen, told al-Araby that the US had intensified its air raids on IS supply convoys along the border between Iraq and Syria, but that "air [raids] are not enough".

"No less than 50,000 ground troops are needed to divide the border and redraw it after IS erased its features and made it one piece," added the general.

General Yaseen said the new year would herald the "beginning of the advance towards the border".