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On August 8, nearly three years after the United States pulled out of Iraq, President Barack Obama ordered airstrikes to commence on Islamic State positions in northern Iraq, as the group’s fighters advanced towards the Kurdish capital of Erbil. For six weeks prior to the strikes the Islamic State made stunning gains within Iraq, effectively dismantling the border with Syria and defeating the Iraqi army with little in the way to stop them.
In the final installment of VICE News’ unprecedented look inside the Islamic State, reporter Medyan Dairieh journeys 200 miles from the the group’s power base in the Syrian city of Raqqa to the border with Iraq. There, after defeating the Iraqi army manning the checkpoint, Islamic State fighters work further to bulldoze the border.
As they clear apart a barrier that divided Iraq and Syria, Islamic State fighters declare an end of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, a nearly 100-year-old pact between France and Britain that divided up the Middle East. For now, that area between Iraq and Syria is part of a new territory: the Islamic State.