By Ali Jawad and Ammar al-Hassani
The Daesh 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 Daesh’s last remaining stronghold in Iraq.
In a statement, al-Araji congratulated the Iraqi people, saying: “Daesh’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 Daesh 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.
Daesh 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 Daesh-held city of Al-Qaim, also located in the western Anbar province, was also finally retaken by the Iraqi army and its allies.