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Security forces in Iraq hold parade to celebrate victories over ISIS

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reviewed the forces from a pavilion as they passed through central Tahrir Square

Published: Updated:

Iraqi security forces paraded through Baghdad on Thursday to celebrate victories over ISIS militants, but an unannounced rehearsal two days earlier put a damper on the festivities.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reviewed the forces from a pavilion as they passed through central Tahrir Square, and military jets and helicopters overflew the city.

The parade was held to mark “the liberation of Fallujah and Ramadi and all the Iraqi territory that was liberated,” defense ministry spokesman Brigadier General Tahseen Ibrahim told AFP, referring to two key cities recaptured from the miltants.

But an unannounced rehearsal for the parade held on Tuesday, in which many roads were closed and military vehicles drove through the city, inspired fear rather than celebration.

Some speculated on social media that it was a message to protesters planning a demonstration on Friday that Abadi has called on them to delay, while others speculated that it could be a military coup.

Iraq announced the full recapture of Fallujah, a city 50 kilometers west of Baghdad that had been outside government control for more than two and a half years, at the end of June.

Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, was declared to have been recaptured at the end of December, but fighting in the area continued into this year.

More recently, Baghdad’s forces seized a key military base south of Mosul from ISIS that the Pentagon has said will serve as a “springboard” for the push to retake the city.