The Latest: US congratulates Iraq on end of war against IS
BAGHDAD (AP) -- The Latest on developments in Iraq (all times local):
The United States is congratulating Iraq following the prime minister's announcement that the war against the Islamic State is over.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the U.S. offers "sincere congratulations to the Iraqi people and to the brave Iraqi Security Forces, many of whom lost their lives heroically fighting ISIS," in an official statement released Saturday.
The statement adds "the United States joins the Government of Iraq in stressing that Iraq's liberation does not mean the fight against terrorism, and even against ISIS, in Iraq is over."
ISIS is an alternative acronym for IS.
Iraqi and coalition officials have stressed that despite the declaration of military victories against the extremists, Iraq continues to be faced with significant security threats.
The Islamic State group has repeatedly returned to their insurgent roots following territorial defeats, targeting Iraqi civilians and infrastructure far from frontline fighting.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says the fight against the Islamic State group is over after more than three years of combat operations.
In an address to the nation aired on Iraqi state television, Al-Abadi says Iraqi forces retook the last IS strongholds in the country Saturday.
Flanked by senior commanders, Al-Abadi says: "The Iraqi flag is flying high today over all Iraqi territory and at the farthest point on the border."
Iraqi forces mopped up the last pockets of IS fighters from Iraq's western deserts Saturday, securing the country's border with Syria.
IS fighters overran nearly a third of Iraqi territory, including Mosul, the country's second largest city in the summer of 2014, declaring a caliphate that stretched from northern Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad.
A senior Iraqi military commander says his country's war against the Islamic State group is over.
In an announcement Saturday, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Rasheed Yar Allah says combat operations against the extremists have concluded after Iraqi forces retook control of the country's border with Syria.
The statement says "all Iraqi lands are liberated from terrorist Daesh gangs and our forces completely control the international Iraqi-Syrian borders." Daesh is an Arabic acronym for IS.
IS fighters overran nearly a third of Iraqi territory, including Mosul, the country's second largest city, in the summer of 2014.
Over the past three and a half years, Iraqi ground forces closely backed by the U.S.-led coalition have retaken all the territory once held by extremists, but the group remains capable of carrying out insurgent attacks.