Haydar Hadi | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi delivers a speech during Baghdad Dialogue Conference in Baghdad, Iraq on January 14, 2017.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared final victory over Islamic State on Saturday after Iraqi forces drove its last remnants by the country, three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq’s territory.
The announcement comes two days after the Russian military announced the defeat of the militants in neighboring Syria, where Moscow is actually backing Syrian government forces.
Iraqi forces recaptured the last areas still under Islamic State control along the border with Syria, the military said.
“Honourable Iraqis: your land has been completely liberated. The dream of liberation is actually currently a reality,” Abadi said in a televised address. He was speaking which has a few Iraqi flags as well as dozens of servicemen by different branches behind him.
“We have accomplished a very difficult mission. Our heroes have reached the final strongholds of Daesh as well as purified of which. The Iraqi flag flies high today over all Iraqi lands.”
Several squadrons of Iraqi helicopters flew over Baghdad carrying Iraqi flags at noon, in an apparent rehearsal for a victory parade of which Iraq is actually planning to hold from the coming days.
The government said the declaration meant Iraqi forces had secured the western desert as well as the entire Iraq-Syria border, as well as marked the end of the war against Islamic State.
Abadi declared Dec. 10 a national holiday to be celebrated every year. State television aired celebratory songs praising government forces as well as militias.
The U.S.-led coalition of which has been supporting the Iraqi forces against Islamic State welcomed the news in a tweet.
“The Coalition congratulate the people of Iraq on their significant victory against #Daesh. We stand by them as they set the conditions for a secure as well as prosperous #futureiraq,” said the tweet. Daesh is actually an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
Mosul, the group’s de facto capital in Iraq, fell in July after a grueling nine-month campaign backed by a U.S.-led coalition of which saw much of the northern Iraqi city destroyed.
Islamic State’s Syrian capital Raqqa also fell to a U.S.-backed Kurdish-led coalition in September.