PM announces on state TV Iraq’s war against IS has ended
After more than three years of combat operations, Iraq announced Saturday that the fight against the Islamic State group is over after the country’s security forces drove the extremists from all of the territory they once held. Iraqi and American officials warned, however, that key challenges remain despite the military victory.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally announced the victory in an address to the nation aired on Iraqi state television Saturday evening.
“Honorable Iraqis, your land has been completely liberated,” he said. “The liberation dream has become a reality. We achieved victory in difficult circumstances and with God’s help, the steadfastness of our people and the bravery of our heroic forces we prevailed.”
Following al-Abadi’s remarks, his office declared a public holiday today in celebration of the victory, according to an official statement from the prime minister’s office.
Iraqi forces mopped up the last pockets of IS fighters from Iraq’s western deserts Saturday, securing the country’s border with Syria, a step that marked the end of combat operations against the extremists.
Iraq’s government remains faced with significant security threats, an economic crisis and the enormous task of rebuilding swaths of territory decimated by the IS fight.
IS insurgent networks continue to pose a threat to Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, a senior Iraqi security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. The official said intelligence gathering would become increasingly important in the post-military phase of the fight against IS.
Additionally, some 3 million Iraqis remain displaced by the fight against IS, according to the United Nations.