Fallujah 'fully liberated' from IS, says Iraqi commander

Fallujah 'fully liberated' from IS, says Iraqi commander

A senior Iraqi commander has declared the city of Fallujah "fully liberated" from Islamic State group militants after a more than month-long military operation.

The head of the counter-terrorism forces in the operation, Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahad al-Saadi, said that on Sunday his troops entered the north-western al-Julan neighbourhood, which was the last area still under IS control.

Lt Gen al-Saadi said the operation, which began in late May, "is done and the city is fully liberated".

Fallujah has been under the control of Islamic State militants since January 2014.

The Iraqi army was backed by US-led coalition air strikes and paramilitary troops, mostly Shiite militias.

"From the centre of al-Julan neighbourhood, we congratulate the Iraqi people and the commander in chief... and declare that the Fallujah fight is over," Lt Gen al-Saadi told Iraqi state TV, flanked by military officers and soldiers. Some of the soldiers were shooting in the air, chanting and waving the Iraqi flag.

Fallujah has been under the control of Islamic State militants since January 2014.

Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad, was the first city to fall to IS in January 2014.

During an insurgency waged by IS group's militant predecessor, al Qaida in Iraq, Fallujah was the scene of some of the bloodiest urban combat with American forces. In 2004, more than 100 US troops died and another 1,000 were wounded fighting insurgents in house-to-house battles.

IS extremists still control significant areas in northern and western Iraq, including the country's second-largest city of Mosul.

The group declared an Islamic caliphate on the territory it holds in Iraq and Syria and at the height of its power was estimated to hold nearly a third of each country.

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