ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi and Jordanian governments have agreed to reopen the main border crossing for the first time since 2015 as Iraqi forces secured the area around Baghdad’s main highway to Amman from Islamic State (IS) militants, according to statements released Wednesday.
“The Government of Iraq and the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan have expressed their shared desire to strengthen ties and cooperation between the two neighboring nations,” a statement released by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s media office read.
Noting recent victories by Iraqi forces against IS, Abadi highlighted life returning to cities previously under the militants’ control west of Baghdad along the 550-kilometer-long highway to the border, including Ramadi and Fallujah.
Iraqi troops pulled out of the Tarbil crossing, located in western Anbar Province, in the summer of 2014 after the militants swept across the border desert area.
IS militants used the crossing to financially support their operations by forcing commercial truck drivers to pay a tax as they imported goods into Iraq.
“The reopening of the Tarbil crossing will mark an important step forward in our bilateral relationship with Jordan,” Abadi’s office stated.
“It is a vital artery for economic and humanitarian reasons,” the statement added. “It will facilitate the movement of citizens and goods in both directions.”
Jordan officials have echoed the sentiment, hoping the opening of the crossing, also known as the Karameh border crossing, will help boost its economy by reviving exports to neighboring Iraq.
The Tarbil border crossing is open effective Wednesday, Aug. 30.
Both governments have pledged to make “every effort” to ensure the smooth flow of citizens and trucks across the border.
However, the vast desert province has historically been a hotbed for extremist insurgency since 2003.
There are fresh concerns about the security of the Iraqi border with the recent transfer of hundreds of IS militants from the Lebanese-Syrian border to the frontier city of al-Bukamal, across the IS-held town of al-Qaim in Iraq.
The city of al-Bukamal is 260 kilometers from the border crossing and some 30 kilometers from al-Qaim, the extremist group’s remaining stronghold in Anbar Province.
The threat of hit-and-run attacks on convoys and the army is ever present according to security experts, Reuters reported.
There have been several attacks by militants near al-Rutba, the last town before reaching Jordan, and alongside the Saudi Arabia border.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany