Baghdad (IraqiNews.com)The Iraqi prime minister has repudiated claims that the declaration of victory over Islamic State extremists was premature, reiterating that the group does not enjoy any territorial influence anymore in the country.
Shafaq News website quoted Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesperson of Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi, saying that “winning the military battle is something we had previously determined, and back then, we never said that terrorist threats disappeared, they are still existent”.
“Terrorists had controlled nearly 40% of Iraq, and at present, there is no region under their control, but rather hiding cells at small agricultural or desert areas. That we had predicted, and dealing with through security efforts,” according to Hadithi.
Iraq declared victory over IS in December, saying its forces recaptured all towns that had been under the militants’ control since 2014. But since then, militants have waged occasional attacks against civilians and security forces, prompting some commentators to argue that it was hasty to declare victory.
The prime minister spokesman’s statement came as security forces reinforced their presence around Kirkuk province, days after IS militants ambushed Popular Mobilization Forces members, killing 27 of them.
PMF top leader Hadi al-Ameri was quoted saying, after the incident, that “whoever thins the battle with IS is over is deluded”.