Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi spoke at a conference in Baghdad on Friday, claiming that his troops were now in total control of the Iraqi-Syrian border.
The border that was once held by ISIS is now held by Iraqi forces, a military commander said. “All Iraqi lands are liberated from terrorist Daesh [ISIS] gangs and our forces completely control the international Iraqi-Syrian border,” Lt Gen Abdul-Amir Rasheed Yar Allah said.
The border zone contained the last few areas that IS held, following its loss of the town Rawa in November. At the height of its power, the ISIS controlled nearly a third of the country, including Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
The announcement comes two days after the Russian military declared it had defeated IS in neighbouring Syria.
“Russia is ready for dialogue to join US-led coalition to help defeat ISIS in Western Iraq,” Russia’s Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko tweeted on Thursday, referencing the Russian Ministry of Defence.
— Alexander Yakovenko (@Amb_Yakovenko) December 7, 2017
The extremist organisation had seized large areas of Syria and Iraq in 2014, when it proclaimed itself a “caliphate” and imposed its rule over around 10 million people.
However, it has suffered a series of defeats since, most significantly in its loss of Mosul in July, and its de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria in November.
Some IS fighters are reported to have dispersed into the Syrian countryside, while others are believed to have escaped across the Turkish border.
The country’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, also declared the “end of the war against Isis”, AFP reported.
Some have cast skepticism on the Prime Minister’s declaration. While IS may be weaker than they once were, Iraqi towns and cities as well as other predominantly Muslim countries are still targeted by suicide bombers. It may be a while until ISIS and their ideology disappears, especially because the conditions of their rise in the first place remain.