A senior Iraqi commander declared that the city of Fallujah was “fully liberated” from Islamic State group militants on Sunday, after a more than monthlong military operation.
Iraqi troops have entered the northwestern al-Julan neighborhood, the last area of Fallujah to remain under IS control, the head of the counterterrorism forces in the operation, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, told The Associated Press.
Al-Saadi said the operation, which began in late May, “is done and the city is fully liberated.” The Iraqi army was backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and paramilitary troops, mostly Shiite militias.
“From the center of al-Julan neighborhood, we congratulate the Iraqi people and the commander in chief…and declare that the Fallujah fight is over,” he told Iraqi state TV, flanked by military officers and soldiers. Some of the soldiers were shooting in the air, chanting and waving the Iraqi flag.
He added that troops will start working on removing bombs from the city’s streets and buildings.
The announcement comes more than a week after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory inFallujah after Iraqi forces advanced into the city center and took control of a government complex. While al-Abadi pledged the remaining pockets of IS fighters would be cleared out within hours, fierce clashes on the city’s northern and western edges persisted for days.
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