The commander of the Fallujah liberation operation has declared the strategic western city is now fully liberated from ISIS terrorists.
Lieutenant General Abdul Wahab al-Saidi told Iraqi state TV on Sunday that the last remaining district held by ISIS in the city had been retaken. He said: “We announce from this place in central Golan district that it has been cleaned by the counter terrorism service and we convey the good news to the Iraqi people that the battle of Fallujah is over”
Iraqi forces are now likely to focus liberating the city of Mosul, which has served as the main terrorist stronghold in the country since 2014.
Press TV reports:
Saidi further said at least 1,800 Takfiri militants were killed in the Fallujah operation.
Fallujah, located some 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of the capital, Baghdad, was the first Iraqi city to fall in the hands of Daesh terrorists in January 2014.
Iraqi government troops initially launched the offensive to retake Fallujah on May 23.
After weeks-long clashes with Daesh terrorists, Iraqi forces entered the center of Fallujah on June 17 without facing significant resistance from Daesh terrorists and raised the national flag on the main government compound there.
Iraqi Prime Minister congratulated the nation on the city’s liberation later that day, but street-street clashes between armed forces and the remaining terrorists continued more than a week.
On Saturday, the commander of Iraq’s Badr Organization, Hadi al-Ameri, said Fallujah was only days away from being fully cleared from Daesh terrorists.
Before being pushed out of Fallujah, Daesh had prevented civilians from escaping the city, using many of them as human shields to slow down army advances.
However, the terror group’s retreat from several neighborhoods enabled the Iraqi army to open up vital exit routes in the course of the operations, allowing tens of thousands of trapped residents to flee.
Estimates show some 30,000 residents made their way out of Fallujah last week, joining tens of thousands of the displaced staying in the makeshift camps set up by aid groups in the desert.
Reports say violence in the city has forced more than 85,000 residents to seek refuge in overwhelmed government-run camps.
With the full liberation of Fallujah, Iraqi armed units are likely to focus on the operation to liberate the city of Mosul, which has served as the main Daesh stronghold in the country since 2014.
Abadi has promised that the liberation of Mosul is very close as it is the Iraqi forces’ “next destination” after the liberation of Fallujah.