BEIRUT (REUTERS) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared the end of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Tuesday (Nov 21) in an address broadcast live on state TV.
A senior commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Major-General Qassem Soleimani, also declared the end of ISIS in a message sent to the country’s supreme leader on Tuesday which was published on Sepah News, the news site of the Guards.
Videos and pictures of Soleimani, who commands the Quds Force, the branch of the Guards responsible for operations outside of Iran’s borders, at frontline positions in battles against ISIS have been posted frequently by Iranian media in recent years.
Last week, Iranian media published pictures of Soleimani at Albu Kamal in eastern Syria, a town which Soleimani said on Tuesday was the last territory retaken from ISIS control in the region.
The Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s most powerful military force which also oversees an economic empire worth billions of dollars, has been fighting in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the central government in Baghdad for several years.
More than a thousand members of the Guards, including senior commanders, have been killed in Syria and Iraq.
ISIS, which had its origins in Al-Qaeda in Iraq, took advantage of the unrest in the Middle East and overran about half of Iraq and Syria, as well as an outpost in Lebanon, during its height in 2014.
The group has since been largely defeated by separate, parallel assaults sponsored by the US and Russia.
On the ground, however, Iran-backed militias, including Hizbollah, played a key role in defeating the militants in all three countries, reported Newsweek.
Separately, in Lebanon, which borders Syria, the army chief urged “full readiness” at the southern border to face the “threats of the Israeli enemy and its violations,” the army said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Army Commander General Joseph Aoun called on soldiers to be ever vigilant for the “good implementation” of the UN resolution 1701 to “preserve stability” at the border with Israel.
The Lebanese army is responsible for security on its side of the border under the resolution, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hizbollah.