ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Saturday announced that the army forces had liberated the entire country from the Islamic State (IS).
Late last month, Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias launched a final military campaign against IS in desert areas west of the country bordering Syria.
“Our forces are completely in control along the border with Syria,” Abadi said during a speech at an international media conference in Baghdad.
The desert area, targeted by Iraqi forces, was about 29,000 square kilometers.
In a statement, the commander of the desert offensive, Major General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, said Iraqi troops and the Shia militias (supported by the Iraqi Air Forces) managed to liberate the desert island between the provinces of Nineveh and Anbar.
He added that the Iraqi forces and the Hashd al-Shaabi have “tightened control” of the Iraqi-Syrian international border from the port of Al-Walid to the port of Rabia in the north.
“And, thus, the liberation of all Iraqi territory has been completed from the rule of the [IS] gangs,” Yarallah said.
Abadi had previously announced the end of the extremist organization in the country but noted the final victory over IS would not be completed until the desert areas were cleared.
The Iraqi Prime Minister is expected to declare victory in an exclusive statement to the public later.
Iraqi forces have seized most of the cities the militant group had controlled since 2014—most recently, the border town of Rawa in the far west.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany