Iraq declares end to fight against Islamic State – National

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BAGHDAD — After greater than three years of fight operations, Iraq introduced Saturday that the combat towards the Islamic State group is over after the nation’s safety forces drove the extremists from the entire territory they as soon as held. Iraqi and American officers warned, nevertheless, that key challenges stay regardless of the army victory.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally introduced the victory in an tackle to the nation aired on Iraqi state tv Saturday night.

“Honourable Iraqis, your land has been fully liberated,” he stated. “The liberation dream has develop into a actuality. We achieved victory in troublesome circumstances and with God’s assist, the steadfastness of our folks and the bravery of our heroic forces we prevailed.”

READ MORE: Smothered by the Islamic State, an Iraqi teen tells her story of survival

“The flag of Iraq is flying excessive right this moment over all Iraqi territory and on the farthest level on the border,” he added, standing earlier than probably the most senior members of Iraq’s safety forces.

Following al-Abadi’s remarks, his workplace declared a public vacation Sunday in celebration of the victory, in keeping with an official assertion from the prime minister’s workplace.

Iraqi forces mopped up the final pockets of IS fighters from Iraq’s western deserts Saturday, securing the nation’s border with Syria, a step that marked the tip of fight operations towards the extremists.

“All Iraqi lands are liberated from terrorist Daesh gangs and our forces fully management the worldwide Iraqi-Syrian border,” stated Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Rasheed Yar Allah, a senior Iraqi army commander, in a press release Saturday afternoon.

READ MORE: Syria says ISIS defeated in final main stronghold

The U.S. applauded the prime minister’s announcement.

The U.S. affords “honest congratulations to the Iraqi folks and to the courageous Iraqi Safety Forces, a lot of whom misplaced their lives heroically combating ISIS,” State Division spokeswoman Heather Nauert stated in a written assertion, utilizing an alternate acronym for IS.

“Our coalition will proceed to face with Iraq to help its safety forces, economic system and stabilization to assist make sure that ISIS can by no means towards threaten Iraq’s folks or use its territory as a haven,” stated Brett McGurk, U.S. particular presidential envoy to the anti-IS coalition, in a press release posted to his official Twitter account.

“We mark right this moment’s historic victory aware of the work that continues to be,” he added.

Iraq’s authorities stays confronted with vital safety threats, an financial disaster and the big activity of rebuilding swaths of territory decimated by the IS combat.

IS fighters overran almost a 3rd of Iraqi territory, together with Mosul, the nation’s second largest metropolis and Tikrit, the capital of Iraq’s central Salahuddin province in the summertime of 2014. The next yr, IS fighters additionally overran Anbar’s provincial capital of Ramadi.

READ MORE: Mass graves in former ISIS territory in Iraq may maintain as much as 400 our bodies

Over the previous three ½ half years, Iraqi floor forces carefully backed by the U.S.-led coalition and largely Shiite paramilitary forces backed by Iran have slowly retaken all of that territory.

The tempo of the anti-IS operation accelerated final yr as coalition-backed Iraqi floor forces ready for the assault on Mosul that was formally launched in October 2016.

After greater than 9 months of largely grueling city fight, Al-Abadi declared victory over IS in Mosul in July.

Within the months that adopted Iraqi forces retook a handful of different IS held cities together with Tal Afar in August, Hawija in September and Qaim in October. In November, Iraqi forces retook the final Iraqi city held by IS — Rawah, close to the border with Syria.

Nevertheless, IS fighters stay able to finishing up rebel assaults in Iraq, and the group has recovered from previous setbacks.

IS rebel networks proceed to pose a menace to Baghdad and different Iraqi cities, a senior Iraqi safety official stated, talking on situation of anonymity according to laws. The official stated intelligence gathering would develop into more and more vital within the post-military part of the combat towards IS.

“The triumph of army operations alone will not be sufficient with out stability,” authorities spokesman Saad al-Hadithi stated, explaining that rebuilding within the wake of army victories towards IS remained a “large problem” for the Iraqi authorities.

Moreover, some three million Iraqis stay displaced by the combat towards IS, in keeping with the United Nations.

Al-Abadi additionally stays confronted with a political and army stand-off with the nation’s Kurdish area over a referendum held on independence.

Federal authorities troops stay deployed all through a string of disputed territories claimed by each Baghdad and Iraq’s Kurds — who had been additionally backed by U.S.-led coalition forces within the combat towards IS. Whereas Baghdad and Irbil have each said a willingness to speak, negotiations to finish the dispute haven’t but begun.

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