Three years after militants from the Islamic State captured nearly a third of the nation, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has declared final victory over ISIS in a televised address to his nation on Saturday.
Haider al-Abadi’s speech comes two days after Russia announced victory over the same terrorist organization in Syria, where their military has been fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
According to the Iraqi Prime Minister, the final remaining portions of Iraqi territory that remained under ISIS control have been liberated from “ISIS terrorist gangs,” securing the Iraq-Syria border and removing the group’s hold on the country.
“Honorable Iraqis: your land has been completely liberated. The dream of liberation is now a reality,” Abadi said. “We have accomplished a very difficult mission. Our heroes have reached the final strongholds of Daesh and purified it. The Iraqi flag flies high today over all Iraqi lands.”
Daesh is an Arabic acronym that ISIS is also known by around the world.
“ISIS dream has come to an end,” he added. “We must remove all its effects and should not allow terrorism to return again. Despite announcing final victory, we must remain vigilant and prepared against any terrorist attempt on our country, for terrorism is an eternal enemy.”
Abadi went on to declare December 10 to be a national holiday, to be celebrated in honor of the government forces and militias that brought about victory over the oppressive extremist regime.
US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett McGurk, also issued a statement congratulating the nation of Iraq on its victory over the Islamic State.
“We congratulate the Prime Minister and all the Iraqi people on this significant achievement, which many thought impossible,” McGurk wrote on Twitter. “We honor the sacrifices of the Iraqi people, its security forces, and the Kurdish Peshmerga, and admire the unity in their ranks that had made this day possible,” McGurk added. “That spirit must be renewed and continue as Iraq works to consolidate these historic gains over the coming year.
“Our @coalition will continue to stand with #Iraq to support its security forces, economy, and stabilization to help ensure that #ISIS can never again threaten Iraq’s people or use its territory as a haven,” he wrote. “We mark today’s historic victory mindful of the work that remains.”
Although the worst of the fighting is now over in Iraq, a number of issues remain. ISIS fighters that have fled the region are, in many cases, now attempting to return to the nations they originated from, sparking controversy within a number of European states that are concerned about the presence of Islamic extremists in their midst. Iraq and Syria also remain volatile, as both nations have seen significant devastation throughout the multiple year offensive against the extremist group. According to the United Nations, some 3.2 million Iraqis have been displaced by the war with ISIS.
“Working ‘by, with, and through’ the Government of Iraq, we will continue to help our displaced Iraqi friends return to their communities and support them as they begin to reestablish their lives,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. “We remain committed to standing with the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi people to stabilize areas liberated from ISIS control.”
“The United States, along with the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, will continue to partner with the Iraqi Security Forces, advising, training, and equipping them. Together, we must be vigilant in countering all extremist ideologies to prevent the return of ISIS or the emergence of threats by other terrorist groups,” she said.
Image courtesy of the Associated Press
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