QAIM, Iraq (AP) — Iraq and Syria on Monday opened a key border crossing between the two neighbouring countries, seven years after it was closed during Syria’s civil war and the battle against the Islamic State (IS) group.
The opening of the crossing linking the Iraqi town of Qaim and Syria’s Boukamal is expected to strengthen trade between the two Arab countries.
In a symbolic gesture, Syrian Interior Minister Major General Mohammed Khaled Rahmoun, accompanied by Syrian troops, crossed onto the Iraqi side of the border, where troops from both countries hugged and took selfies. Scores of Iraqis and Syrians who live in the border towns also attended the ceremony.
“The opening of this border crossing is the result of victories achieved by our people in Syria and Iraq against terrorist organisations,” Rahmoun said.
The Boukamal crossing was closed in 2012 as rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad seized large parts of eastern Syria.
Qaim and Boukamal were then controlled by the IS group until 2017, when Syrian and Iraqi troops captured the towns from the extremists.
The group’s territorial defeat was announced in Syria earlier this year.