Mattis: IS militants caught in Iraq-Syria military vise

By ROBERT BURNS

AP National Security Writer

BAGHDAD (AP) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says Islamic State militants are caught in a military vise that will squeeze them from both ends of the Euphrates River valley that bisects Iraq and Syria. He calls this their last stand.

Mattis arrived in Baghdad Tuesday to consult with U.S. commanders and Iraqi government officials.

His visit comes after U.S.-assisted Iraqi forces completed the liberation of Mosul and are now attempting to recapture the city of Tal Afar. After that, they are expected to focus on pushing IS out of an area dubbed the Middle Euphrates River Valley, stretching north and west from the Iraqi city of al-Qaim into eastern Syria.

Mattis was accompanied by Brett McGurk, the special U.S. envoy to the coalition against the Islamic State.

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