Just days after Russian president Vladimir Putin declared total eradication of IS forces haunting Syria and subsequent troop withdrawal, Iraqi prime minister and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, Haider al-Abadi echoed a similar declaration as Iraqi troops conquered the last of IS-held territories in al-Jazira desert bordering Syria. “Our battle against the enemy who wanted to kill our civilization, however, we gained victory through our unity and determination that made us defeat IS in short time,” he said.
The declaration came after the Iraqi armed forces announced the success of the Upper Euphrates and Jazirah Combing Operations, and “liberation of Iraqi lands” with its completion. Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah, commander of the operation has said the operation “purged more than 90 villages and over 16,000 square kilometers.” He added the troops managed to gain control of the Iraqi-Syrian border from al-Waleed to Rabia border crossings.
US state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert and UK prime minister Theresa May congratulated the Iraqi government on the occasion, but warned liberation of Iraq does not mean the war of terror and IS are far from over. Australian Department of Defence echoed similar sentiments in a statement, suggesting the conflict may continue with IS employing guerrilla warfare and terrorism.
In Saturday’s victory speech, the prime minister, noticeably left the Kurdish Peshmerga militants unmentioned as the central government’s conflict with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government is brought into fore. On the other hand, Iranian-backed and trained Shi’ite PMF (Popular Mobilisation Forces) received glowing praises from Abadi, despite their alleged Iranian loyalty.
The day after the prime minister announced the end of war, a victory parade was held in Bagdad. al-Abadi declared the day, December 10th, to be an annual holiday celebrated as the Victory Day.