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Iraqi border crossings better protected as cells attempt desert attacks

The prime minister’s decision to send military reinforcements to Iraq's border ports last year seems to have made officials feel safer and reduced revenue-siphoning corruption.
An aerial view shows the Mandili crossing between Iraq and Iran on July 11, 2020. - Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi launched a new campaign against corruption at the country's borders, saying millions of dollars were being lost by not properly taxing imported goods. (Photo by Thaier Al-SUDANI / POOL / AFP) (Photo by THAIER AL-SUDANI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

TREBIL, Iraq —  On Iraq's western edge, a border crossing with Jordan is surrounded by desert that has long been difficult to secure. The same can be said for Qaim, a port of entry further north that borders Syria. And along Iraq's eastern border with Iran, there is the Zerbatiya crossing, where the Hamrin mountains — known for decades as a favorite hideout of insurgent groups — stretching to the Salahuddin province are silhouetted against the horizon.

The Rutba area, along the main road between Trebil and Anbar province's capital, Ramadi, has been the site of several terrorism-linked incidents in recent weeks. A Jan. 29 confrontation southwest of the city between border police and three men, one of whom was wearing a suicide belt, resulted in the attackers' deaths and the wounding of a policeman.

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