27 Jun 2016

Iraq PM hails recapture of Fallujah

8:15 am on 27 June 2016

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has urged all Iraqis to rejoice, after the recapture of the city of Fallujah from Islamic State (IS) fighters.

Iraqi government forces are seen in Fallujah, 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital Baghdad, after they retook the embattled city from the Islamic State group on June 26, 2016. I

Iraqi government forces in Fallujah after they retook the embattled city from the Islamic State. Photo: AFP

It came after the army said it had seized the last IS stronghold in the city, 50km west of Baghdad.

Mr Abadi appeared on television outside Fallujah's main hospital, waving an Iraqi flag.

He said the security forces would soon raise the flag in Mosul in the north - the biggest Iraqi city held by IS.

"Today our troops liberated Fallujah while at the same time our troops are currently fighting in Mosul.

"There is no place for Isis (IS) in Iraq. We will chase them everywhere. As we promised to raise the flag high in Fallujah, we will raise it in Mosul soon with the will of our heroes.

"I call on Iraqis to celebrate this day."

IS fighters seized control of Fallujah in January 2014 and the government - backed by airstrikes from the US-led coalition - launched an operation to retake it in May.

At least 1800 militants were killed in the operation, the Iraqi army said.

Destruction is seen in Fallujah, 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Iraqi capital Baghdad, after Iraqi forces retook the embattled city from the Islamic State group on June 26, 2016. I

Destruction in Fallujah. Photo: AFP

Tens of thousands of people fled the fighting and some - including elderly people, women and children - remained camped out in the open in the summer heat, the Norwegian Refugee Council said.

Fallujah, a major city in the western Anbar Province, was the first Iraqi city to fall to IS.

The jihadist group also managed to seize large swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq and eastern Syria in 2014, establishing a self-declared "Islamic Caliphate" in the territories it captured.

In recent weeks, the militants have lost control over several territories in both countries.

The city of Mosul is seen as the next battle for Iraqi forces. The northern city has been under IS control since 2014 and the Iraqi army launched an operation in March aiming to retake it.

The Iraqi Prime Minister says the Iraq army has 'liberated Fallujah' from Islamic State and has called on all Iraqis to celebrate.

A member of the Iraqi government forces uses a drone in Fallujah. Photo: AFP

-BBC