In a televised announcement on Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the Islamic State (ISIS) had been driven from Iraq and ground operations against the militant group had ceased.
Referring to the Iraqi armed forces as “heroic,” al-Abadi said:
“Our forces are in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border and I therefore announce the end of the war against Daesh. Our enemy wanted to kill our civilization, but we have won through our unity and our determination. We have triumphed in little time.”
Al-Abadi went on to set aside Dec. 10 as a national holiday to be observed annually. Iraq celebrated the victory one day later with a military parade through downtown Baghdad complete with aircraft overhead and troops marching in the streets.
The State Department lauded al-Abadi’s announcement as an end to the “vile” occupation of ISIS.
We announce to the world the liberation of Iraq and the defeat of Daesh pic.twitter.com/jSdQcXg211
— Haider Al-Abadi (@HaiderAlAbadi) December 9, 2017
Al-Abadi’s statements follows the Russian Ministry of Defense making a similar announcement that ISIS forces had been overcome in neighboring Syria. For two years, the Kremlin has backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the fight against Islamic State militants.
“All terrorist units of ISIS on Syrian soil have been destroyed, and the territory is liberated,” Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov told foreign military attaches at a Moscow briefing.
In the battle against the ISIS caliphate, the militant faction held as much as two-thirds of Iraq and Syria and briefly ruled over an estimated 10 million people.
Welcome news globally, many world leaders expressed some concern the Islamist militant group remains a threat even in retreat. Russian President Vladimir Putin cautioned against any premature notion of a complete victory over ISIS and warned a lasting victory comes only after a peace process is achieved.
Similarly, British Prime Minister Theresa May signaled her concern over ISIS’ future while praising the Iraqi military for its triumph over the terror group:
“We must be clear, however, that whilst Daesh is failing, they are not yet defeated. They still pose a threat to Iraq, including from over the Syrian border.”
Defeat of the militant group marks the end of a three-year fight in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian civilians died and hundreds of thousands more fled the region.
[AP] [AFP via The Straits Times] [RT News] [The Independent] [Photo courtesy Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah]