Just a month ago, General Mattis stated that less than 5% of ISIS still remained. Seemingly on the verge of collapse, Iraq has declared victory over ISIS.
“Our nations’ dedication to defeating the terrorist enemy is evident in the progress we have made since our last gathering here … 95 percent of the territory once held by ISIS is now liberated, and our partners continue to secure more each day,” Mattis said.
Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, stated over the weekend that the war against the Islamic State has come to an end.
“This victory was achieved . . . when Iraqis united to face a heinous enemy that didn’t want us to see this day,” Abadi said. “They wanted to return us back to the Dark Ages.”
While some small pockets remain, it seems that the matter is largely handled in the middle east. Though I do worry we may still see it’s influences for many years to come in the western world.
As reported by The Washington Post:
Saturday’s declaration caps a war that has killed thousands of Iraqi troops in fierce battles for such cities as Tikrit, Ramadi and Baiji since 2015. But after losing the grueling nine-month battle for Mosul in July, the Islamic State began to quickly collapse — ceding its grip on smaller cities and towns in days rather than months.
The explosive rise of the militants in 2014 drew the United States back into Iraq, with more than 5,000 U.S. troops assisting Iraq’s military as it wrested back land. The Islamic State’s growth also saw the United States enter Syria’s battlefields, already crowded with Russian and Iranian-proxy forces that buttressed the unsteady rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
“The Coalition congratulate the people of Iraq on their significant victory against #Daesh. We stand by them as they set the conditions for a secure and prosperous #futureiraq,” the U.S.-led coalition wrote in a tweet, using the Arabic name for the Islamic State.
Last month, Iran and Russia declared victory over the Islamic State in Syria, though fighting continues in small pockets near the border with Iraq. The Syrian Democratic Forces, a group of mostly Kurdish fighters backed by the United States, won back the Islamic State’s de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa in October.
Abadi’s comments came almost in passing as he attended a conference with the journalists’ union Saturday. The casual declaration of victory over the Islamic State came as the nation’s attention has turned to a political standoff with Kurdish separatists and a reckoning with repairing the immense physical and social damage the militants and the military fight to dislodge them have wrought.