Iraqi forces recaptured the last district held by Islamic State militants in the city of Fallujah on Sunday, and the general commanding the operation declared victory after nearly five weeks of fighting.
"We announce from this place in central Golan district that it has been cleaned by the counterterrorism service and we convey the good news to the Iraqi people that the battle of Fallujah is over," Lieutenant General Abdul Wahab al-Saidi told state TV.
Flanked by jubilant fighters, some waving Iraqi flags, Saidi said a few militants were still holding out in buildings. At least 1,800 Islamic State fighters were killed in the operation to retake Fallujah, and the rest had fled, he said.
Government troops launched the operation on May 23 to retake Fallujah, a bastion of the Sunni Muslim insurgency that followed the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The city, located about 40 miles west of Baghdad, was seized by the Islamic State in in January 2014, six months before the group's self-proclaimed "caliphate" was established in parts of Syria and Iraq.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi claimed victory in Fallujah more than a week ago, but fighting continued in parts of the city. The offensive has been backed by US-led coalition airstrikes..
Abadi said last week that the recapture of Fallujah would pave the way for the military to march on Mosul, the largest city held by the Islamic State..
Fighting to recapture Fallujah has forced more than 85,000 residents to flee to overwhelmed government-run camps. The United Nations says it has received allegations of abuse of civilians fleeing the city, including by members of Shiite armed groups supporting the offensive.
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