BAGHDAD (AFP) – Fighters of the Islamic State group attacked an Iraqi border guard base near Jordan on Tuesday, killing at least nine people before being beaten back, officers said.
The early morning attack involved heavy mortar fire and saw clashes between jihadists and border guards defending their position near Rutba, the last town on the desert road before the Trebil border crossing.
“Elements from the Daesh (IS) gangs attacked the 2nd regiment of the border guard, which is located on the highway between Rutba and Trebil,” a colonel in the border guard said.
“We clashed for several hours.”
The Joint Operations Command which coordinates Iraq’s fight against IS said nine people were killed — eight members of the border guard and a civilian.
The colonel said 17 border guards were also wounded in the attack, which occurred in the westernmost part of Anbar province, some 450 kilometres (280 miles) from Baghdad.
“Several Daesh fighters were also killed and they were forced to withdraw. The base has remained under border guard control,” the officer said.
“The 2nd regiment is under our control, they did not manage to take it, our troops fought back,” said Major General Ammar al-Kubaysi, the border guard commander.
Rutba, a small town with significant strategic value given its location on the road to Jordan, was recaptured from IS in May this year.
IS lost most of its bastions in Anbar in recent months, including the provincial capital Ramadi, its emblematic stronghold of Fallujah, and other towns.
Its fighters still hold towns near the border with Syria and jihadist units scattered across the vast province continue to harass Iraqi forces on a daily basis.