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World leaders congratulate Iraq Sunday following the prime minister’s declaration of victory over the Islamic State group. Saudi Arabia says the achievement is a big victory against terrorism in the region while the United Kingdom applauds Iraq’s security forces “for their courage and sacrifice.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in the more than three-year fight against IS in a national address aired on Iraqi state television Saturday evening.

Sunday was an official holiday in Iraq. A military parade attended by al-Abadi is held inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone — a district that houses most of Iraq’s government buildings and foreign embassies. In the evening, the capital’s skies fill with fireworks.

“Daesh no longer holds significant territory in Iraq or Syria,” United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May says according to an official statement released by her office. “This signals a new chapter towards a more peaceful, prosperous country.”

In Saudi Arabia’s statement Sunday, the kingdom reiterates Saudi support for Iraq.

Iraqis gather in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on December 10, 2017, to celebrate the end of the three-year war against the Islamic State (IS) group. (AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

Several thousand Saudis are believed to have joined the ranks of Sunni extremist groups to fight in Iraq and Syria. However, the kingdom has also been a target of multiple attacks claimed by IS and carried out by local affiliates.

The top US-led coalition commander US Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II pledges that coalition forces will continue to support Iraq after the conventional military fight against IS is concluded.

“Much work remains, and we will continue to work by, with and through our Iraqi partners to ensure the enduring defeat of Daesh and prevent its ability to threaten civilization, regionally and globally,” Funk says in a statement released by the coalition Sunday. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for IS.


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