Iraq army takes last Islamic State stronghold in Fallujah

 Iraq-army-takes-last-Islamic-State-stronghold-in-Fallujah. FALLUJAH, Iraq,  The Iraqi army has reportedly “fully liberated” the city of Fallujah from the grip of Islamic State.

Soldiers of Iraqi government forces flash victory signs after recapturing the town Zankoura from the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, northwest of Ramadi, in Anbar province, June 16, 2016. A similar celebration took place Sunday when the Iraqi army declared it had freed Falluah of Islamic State. Photo by Abbas Mohammed /UPI | License Photo

Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, head of counterterrorism forces for the army, said troops entered the northwestern Golan area, which was the last neighborhood under IS control, BBC reported. Al-Saadi said the city, located about 30 miles west of Baghdad was “fully liberated.”

IS launched a takeover of Fallujah in January 2014 and the Iraqi government launched an operation to retake the city in May.

The Iraqi government operation was backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and paramilitary troops made up mostly of Shiite militias, Fox News reported.

“From the center of al-Julan neighborhood, we congratulate the Iraqi people and the commander in chief…and declare that the Fallujah fight is over,” Al-Saadi said on Iraqi state TV. Soldiers and other military officers surrounded him, with some of the soldiers shooting in to the air, waving their country’s flag and chanting.

Al-Saadi said troops will start working to remove bombs from the city, along streets and inside buildings.

By Yvette C. Hammett