Iraq has announced that its war against so-called Islamic State is over.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told a conference in Baghdad that Iraqi troops were now in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Recapturing Mosul was the bloodiest conflict – for both combatants and civilians
The border zone contained the last few areas IS held, following its loss of the town of Rawa in November.
The Iraqi announcement comes two days after the Russian military declared it had accomplished its mission of defeating IS in neighbouring Syria.
This is undeniably a proud moment for Mr Abadi – a victory that once looked like it might only ever be rhetorical rather than real.
But if the direct military war with IS in Iraq is genuinely over, and the country’s elite forces can now step back after a conflict that’s taken a huge toll on them, it doesn’t mean the battle against the group’s ideology or its ability to stage an insurgency is finished – whether in Iraq, Syria or the wider world.
Attacks may be at a lower level than they once were, but Iraqi towns and cities still fall prey to suicide bombers, while the conditions that fuelled the growth of jihadism remain – even in the territory that’s been recaptured.
Mr Abadi said on Saturday: “Our forces are in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border and I therefore announce the end of the war against Daesh [IS].
“Our enemy wanted to kill our civilisation, but we have won through our unity and our determination. We have triumphed in little time.”
The Iraqi armed forces issued a statement saying Iraq had been “totally liberated” from IS.
Last month, the Syrian military said it had “fully liberated” the eastern border town of Albu Kamal, IS’s last urban stronghold in that country.
On Thursday, the head of the Russian general staff’s operations, Col-Gen Sergei Rudskoi, said: “The mission to defeat bandit units of the Islamic State terrorist organisation on the territory of Syria, carried out by the armed forces of the Russian Federation, has been accomplished.”
He said Russia’s military presence in Syria would now concentrate on preserving ceasefires and restoring peace.
The collapse of IS has raised fears that its foreign fighters will escape over Syria’s borders to carry out more attacks abroad.
Iraq’s war with IS
- January 2014: Forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant capture the cities of Falluja and Ramadi
- June 2014: The jihadists take Mosul, Iraq’s second city, after a six-day battle
- 29 June 2014: ISIL changes its name to Islamic State, announcing a new caliphate under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
- August 2014: IS captures Sinjar. Some 200,000 civilians, mostly Yazidis, flee to the Sinjar mountains, prompting US-aided air drops
- March 2015: Iraqi forces and allied Shia militias retake Tikrit
- December 2015: Ramadi recaptured
- June 2016: Falluja retaken
- October 2016: Iraqi forces, Shia militias, Kurdish units and international allies lay siege to Mosul
- July 2017: Mosul retaken
- December 2017: Iraq’s PM announces an end to the war with IS
Source: BBC News
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