Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on Saturday “the end of the war” in Iraq against the ISIS group and that his forces had regained full control of the border with Syria.
“Our forces are in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border and I therefore announce the end of the war against ISIS,” Abadi told a conference in Baghdad.
“Our enemy wanted to kill our civilization, but we have won through our unity and our determination. We have triumphed in little time,” he said.
ISIS seized vast areas north and west of Baghdad in a lightning offensive in 2014, endangering the very existence of the Iraqi state.
Iraq’s fightback was launched with the backing of an air campaign waged by a US-led coalition, recapturing town after town from the clutches of the militants.
“I announce the good news: the liberation by Iraqi forces of the whole of the Iraqi-Syrian border,”the prime minister told the conference organized by the Iraqi journalists’ union.
Iraqi armed forces also announced in a statement on Saturday that country has been Iraq has been “totally liberated” from ISIS.
A senior military commander confirmed that combat operations had been completed.
“All Iraqi lands are liberated from terrorist Daesh gangs and our forces completely control the international Iraqi-Syrian border,” Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Rasheed Yar Allah said in a statement released shortly after al-Abadi's remarks. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
ISIS fighters overran nearly a third of Iraqi territory, including Mosul, the country’s second largest city, in the summer of 2014.
Over the past three and a half years, Iraqi ground forces closely backed by the US-led coalition have retaken all of that territory. However, IS fighters remain capable of carrying out insurgent attacks in Iraq, and the group has recovered from past setbacks.
In November, Iraqi forces retook the last town held by ISIS - Rawah, near the border with Syria. Over the following weeks Iraqi forces continued to clear patches of the country’s vast western deserts.
In the most significant victory over the extremists, Iraqi forces retook Mosul earlier this year. Al-Abadi declared the fight concluded in July, but clashes continued in the city for weeks afterward.
Iraq now faces the daunting challenge of reconstruction. The fighting caused massive devastation in many areas, and some 3 million Iraqis are still displaced.
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