Iraqi government: Islamic State 'completely defeated' in country

By Allen Cone  |  Dec. 9, 2017 at 11:18 AM
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Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Iraq's prime minister announced Saturday that the country's defense forces completely liberated the nation from the Islamic State.

"Our heroic armed forces have now secured the entire length of the Iraq-Syria border," Haider al-Abadi posted on Twitter. "We defeated Daesh [Islamic State] through our unity and sacrifice for the nation. Long live Iraq and its people."

Last month, Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed militias began a final campaign against the militants along the country's Syrian border.

The targeted area, largely desert, was about 11,000 square miles.

In all, the Islamic State controlled more than 34,000 square miles from the Mediterranean coast to south of Baghdad. Rawa was the last liberated city since the Islamic State took control in 2014.

More than 3.2 million people were displaced from the country, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

In a post on Twitter, the government said that the armed forces have secured the west desert and the entire Iraq-Syrian border. "This marks the end of the war against Daesh terrorists who have been completely defeated and evicted from Iraq," the post said.

Desert offensive Maj. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah said the forces liberated the desert between the provinces of Nineveh and Anbar.

"And, thus, the liberation of all Iraqi territory has been completed from the rule of the [Islamic State] gangs," Yarallah said in a statement.

The Global Coalition conducted about 25,000 airstrikes during military operations there.

"The Coalition congratulate the people of Iraq on their significant victory against #Daesh. We stand by them as they set the conditions for a secure and prosperous #futureiraq," the Global Coalition said in a post on Twitter.

Brett McGyrk, special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, said in a statement posted on Twitter: "We congratulate the prime minister and all the Iraqi people on this significant achievement, which many thought impossible.

"We honor the sacrifices of the Iraqi people, its security forces, and the Kurdish Peshmerga, and admire the unity in their ranks that had made this day possible. That spirit must be renewed and continue as Iraq works to consolidate these historic gains over the coming year."

He pledged that the "coalition will continue to stand with #Iraq to support its security forces, economy, and stabilization to help ensure that #ISIS can never again threaten Iraq's people or use its territory as a haven. We mark today's historic victory mindful of the work that remains."

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