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Iraqi PM announces victory over IS militants in Fallujah

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Friday substantial victory against the Islamic State (IS) militants in Fallujah in the western province of Anbar, the state-run Iraqiya TV reported.

"Our troops have fulfilled their promise and freed the city of Fallujah," Abadi addressed the nation on the state-run Iraqiya television.

"Fallujah has returned to the homeland and our forces took control of the heart of the city," Abadi said.

Earlier in the day, the security forces managed to free the government compound and raised the Iraqi flag on its main building in the central part of Fallujah.

The recapture of the government compound came after the troops freed the districts of Nazal, Jubail and Resala, in addition to the industrial area in the southern part of the city, some 50 km west of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, according to Raid Shakir Jawdat, the Commander of the Federal Police.

The latest advance in Fallujah was the result of fierce clashes during the past few days, which forced many of the extremist militants to flee the city, a provincial source said.

The battles continued in the day to free the northern part of the city with some IS militants still fighting in some areas, the source added.

Abadi also promised that the security forces will soon start their advance toward the northern city of Mosul to free it from the largest IS stronghold in Iraq.

"We congratulate all Iraqis on this victory, and (another) victory is close, very close with God willing in Mosul to drive out the last IS militant from the land of Iraq," Abadi said in his address.

In his address, Abadi promised thousands of displaced families from Fallujah and the surrounding towns and villages that they will come back to their homes soon after defeating IS militants by the Iraqi security forces.

"This is your city and you will return to it with God willing," Abadi said.

The Prime Minister announced on May 23 the launch of a major offensive to claim Fallujah and surrounding towns and areas.

Government troops and allied militias have currently been fighting for months to reclaim key cities and towns in Anbar from IS militants, who attempted to advance toward Baghdad after seizing most of Anbar province.

Iraq has been witnessing a wave of violence since the IS controlled parts of its northern and western regions in June 2014.

[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 17Jun16]

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