The ISIL terrorist group’s presence in Iraq has effectively come to an end following the “liberation” of the city of Rawa in the western Anbar province, Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji declared Friday.
Earlier the same day, Iraqi army forces backed by pro-government tribal fighters and U.S.-led coalition air power captured Rawa from the terrorist group following a weeks-long campaign.
Located roughly 230 kilometers west of provincial capital Ramadi, Rawa had been considered ISIL’s last remaining stronghold in Iraq.
In a statement, al-Araji congratulated the Iraqi people, saying: “ISIL’s military presence in Iraq has finally ended.”
Iraqi forces are now expected to begin mopping-up operations in remote parts of Anbar with a view to finding and neutralizing remaining ISIL elements.
Fighters affiliated with the Hashd al-Shaabi (a largely Shia component of the Iraqi Armed Forces) are now securing Anbar’s 300-kilometer-long border with Syria, Kazem Abdel-Wahid, a Hashd al-Shaabi commander, told Anadolu Agency on Friday.
ISIL has recently suffered a string of crushing defeats in both Iraq and Syria after overrunning vast swathes of territory in both countries in mid-2014.
Late last month, the ISIL-held city of Al-Qaim, also located in the western Anbar province, was also finally retaken by the Iraqi army and its allies.