Iraq announces total liberation from ISIS

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Iraq announces total liberation from ISIS

BAGHDAD: Iraq has been “totally liberated” from Daesh, the Iraqi armed forces announced in a statement on Saturday.

Earlier in November, Iraqi forces said that Daesh fighters are withdrawing deep into the desert to escape an offensive aimed at a final defeat of the militants.

Daesh has already been driven out of all of the towns it once held, but Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said he will not proclaim victory until the militants have been cleared from the western desert bordering Syria.

The Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitary force said its fighters had taken control of 77 villages and hamlets since the launch of the offensive.

At its peak in 2014, Daesh ruled over seven million people in a territory as large as Italy encompassing large parts of Syria and nearly a third of Iraq.

It is now being flushed out of its last desert hideouts in Iraq and under attack by Russian-backed government forces and US-backed Kurdish-led fighters in its last pockets of control in Syria.