Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday that the fight against the Islamic State group is over after more than three years of combat operations.
In an address to the nation aired on Iraqi state television, Al-Abadi said Iraqi forces retook the last Islamic State strongholds in the country Saturday.
Flanked by senior commanders, Al-Abadi said: "The Iraqi flag is flying high today over all Iraqi territory and at the farthest point on the border."
Iraqi forces mopped up the last pockets of Islamic State fighters from Iraq's western deserts Saturday, securing the country's border with Syria.
Islamic State fighters overran nearly a third of Iraqi territory, including Mosul, the country's second largest city in the summer of 2014, declaring a caliphate that stretched from northern Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that the U.S. offers "sincere congratulations to the Iraqi people and to the brave Iraqi Security Forces, many of whom lost their lives heroically fighting ISIS," in an official statement released Saturday.
The statement adds "the United States joins the Government of Iraq in stressing that Iraq's liberation does not mean the fight against terrorism, and even against ISIS, in Iraq is over."
Iraqi and coalition officials have stressed that despite the declaration of military victories against the extremists, Iraq continues to be faced with significant security threats.
The Islamic State group has repeatedly returned to their insurgent roots following territorial defeats, targeting Iraqi civilians and infrastructure far from frontline fighting.
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