Iraq declares war with Islamic State is over

Posted by
The Old City of Mosul, July 2017
Recapturing Mosul was the bloodiest conflict – for both combatants and civilians

Iraq has announced that its war against so-called Islamic State (IS) 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.

The border zone contained the last few areas IS held, following its loss of the town of Rawa in November.

The US state department welcomed the end of the “vile occupation” of IS in Iraq and said the fight against the group would continue.

Iraq’s announcement comes two days after the Russian military declared it had accomplished its mission of defeating IS in neighboring Syria.

The jihadist group had seized large swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014 when it proclaimed a “caliphate” and imposed its rule over some 10 million people.

But it suffered a series of defeats over the past two years, losing Iraq’s second city of Mosul this July and its de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria last month.

Some IS fighters are reported to have dispersed into the Syrian countryside, while others are believed to have escaped across the Turkish border.

A battle unfinished

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, January 2016
Haider al-Abadi: “We have won through our unity”

By Sebastian Usher, BBC Arab affairs editor

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.

Presentational grey line

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 civilization, 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.

Culled from BBC

Advertisements