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updated: 11/9/2017 11:59 AM

As caliphate crumbles, US increases western Iraq footprint

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  • In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines build a military site during a sandstorm in western Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.

    In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines build a military site during a sandstorm in western Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.
    Associated Press

  • In this Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 photo,  U.S. Marines prepares to build a military site in western Anbar, Iraq.  The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.

    In this Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines prepares to build a military site in western Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.
    Associated Press

  • In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines exercise in open air gym outside Qaim train station, that was destroyed by the Islamic State group during their occupation of the city, in Qaim, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.

    In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines exercise in open air gym outside Qaim train station, that was destroyed by the Islamic State group during their occupation of the city, in Qaim, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.
    Associated Press

  • In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines transport equipment and ammunition in Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.

    In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines transport equipment and ammunition in Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.
    Associated Press

  • In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines prepare to build a military site during a sandstorm in western Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.

    In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines prepare to build a military site during a sandstorm in western Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.
    Associated Press

  • In this Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017 photo, a U.S. soldier from the K9 unit travels with his dog in a military helicopter in Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.

    In this Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017 photo, a U.S. soldier from the K9 unit travels with his dog in a military helicopter in Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.
    Associated Press

  • In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines prepare to build a military site during a sandstorm in western Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.

    In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines prepare to build a military site during a sandstorm in western Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.
    Associated Press

  • In this Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 photo, Iraqi Army armoured vehicle patrol while U.S. Marines build a military site in western Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in a dusty corner of western Iraq just some 20 kilometers from the border with Syria. From here, a couple hundred U.S. marines supported the most recent Iraqi victory against the extremists in the border town of Qaim some 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of Baghdad.

    In this Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 photo, Iraqi Army armoured vehicle patrol while U.S. Marines build a military site in western Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in a dusty corner of western Iraq just some 20 kilometers from the border with Syria. From here, a couple hundred U.S. marines supported the most recent Iraqi victory against the extremists in the border town of Qaim some 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of Baghdad.
    Associated Press

  • In this Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines are stationed in al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.

    In this Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines are stationed in al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.
    Associated Press

 
 

QAIM, Iraq -- The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in a dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria. Here, several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.

The Americans directed Iraqi troops in their victory last week recapturing the nearby border town of Qaim, the militants' last urban holding. Now the Marines will lead the equally difficult task of clearing the extremists from their last redoubt: a large stretch of empty desert north of the Euphrates River adjoining the border with Syria.

They also face the possibility of friction with Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias that are increasing their own presence in the border region.

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