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Iraq begins fight for final IS-held town, Rawa

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ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may be in Syria's al-Boukamal: Report

With Iraqi, Syrian and Kurdish forces encroaching upon the Islamic State heartland from all flanks, ISIS is reportedly suffering from a huge shortage of militants willing to fight for the self-declared caliphate, rendering it impossible for the hardline group to turn the tides on the battlefield.

"IS fully recaptured Albu Kamal, and regime forces and allied militia are now between one to two kilometres from the city limits", said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The claim was denied by Syrian opposition activists who said the government is trying to make up for losses it suffered in Boukamal when large parts were retaken by the extremists again on Friday.

Albu Kamal lies at the heart of what used to be the sprawling "caliphate" that IS declared in 2014 across swathes of Iraq and Syria.

On Thursday, the Syrian Army liberated the city of Abu Kamal, near the border with Iraq, destroying the last IS stronghold in Syria.

Abu Laila said ISIS fighters control most of Boukamal adding that government claims that al-Baghdadi is in the town is to cover for their losses.

Several officers told an AFP reporter in Rumana that Iraqi forces had managed to foil at least two Daesh suicide vehicle bomb attacks.

An audio message purported to be from Baghdadi was released in September.

Al-Baghdadi's whereabouts are unknown but he is believed to be in ISIS's dwindling territory in eastern Syria.

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