Iraq is "totally liberated" from IS: armed forces

12 December, 2017, 18:50 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Iraq ‘totally liberated’ from IS says PM Abadi

The Iraqi government, backed by a USA -led worldwide coalition, launched a campaign against the IS group after the extremists seized about one-third of the country in the summer of 2014.

Some three million Iraqis remain displaced by the war, and municipal services have yet to be restored in many liberated areas.

Iraq has "completely liberated" all of its territory that was under the control of Islamic State extremists, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday.

"Much work remains, and we will continue to work by, with and through our Iraqi partners to ensure the enduring defeat of Daesh and prevent its ability to threaten civilization, regionally and globally", said Army Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR).

Islamic State's Syrian capital Raqqa also fell to a US -backed Kurdish-led coalition in September.

The forces fighting Islamic State in both countries say they now expect a new phase of guerrilla warfare, typical to the group.

"Daesh's dream is over and we must erase all its effect and not allow terrorism to return".

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The war has had a devastating impact on the areas previously controlled by the militants.

The United Nations estimates that some 3.2 million people remain displaced from areas that were under ISIL's control. However, al-Abadi has failed to mention the Kurdish Peshmerga in his victory speech, which aroused swift condemnation from Kurdistan, according to the Rudaw Media Network report. He urged his followers to keep up the fight despite setbacks.

Hisham al-Hashemi, an expert on jihadist groups, warned that IS still posed a threat by retaining arms caches in uninhabited desert zones.

The militants took thousands of women from the Yazidi minority, which lives in a mountain west of Mosul, as sex slaves and killed the men.

The ministry also wryly noted that over the course of more than three years of activity by the USA -led coalition, it only recently had managed to deliver its first blows against the Islamic State group in Syria in the form of the "mass bombing of Raqqa and its civilians".

Islamic State is believed to still have sleeper cells in some parts of Iraq.

"Weapons should only be in the state's hands. The unity of Iraq and its people is the most important and greatest accomplishment", he said.

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