Iraq holds military parade to celebrate victory over ISIS

An Iraqi military parade in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone celebrated final victory over Islamic State on Sunday.
Iraqis celebrating the victory over ISIS, at Tahrir Square in Baghdad on Dec 10, 2017.
Iraqis celebrating the victory over ISIS, at Tahrir Square in Baghdad on Dec 10, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS
A column of Iraqi army tanks parading in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, during a victory parade on Dec 10, 2017.
A column of Iraqi army tanks parading in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, during a victory parade on Dec 10, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS
Iraqi federal policemen taking part in the victory parade commemorating the victory over ISIS, in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone on Dec 10, 2017.
Iraqi federal policemen taking part in the victory parade commemorating the victory over ISIS, in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone on Dec 10, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq's armed forces held a military parade in Baghdad on Sunday (Dec 10) to celebrate the victory announced by Prime Minister Haider Abadi over the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.

Abadi on Saturday declared victory in Iraq's three-year war to expel the group that at its height endangered the country's very existence.

Iraqi army units marched through the main square in central Baghdad as helicopters and fighter jets flew overhead, witnesses said.

The parade was not broadcast live and only state media were allowed to attend.

Abadi had declared Sunday a public holiday after making his announcement, in which he said Iraq had defeated the militants "through our unity and our determination".

Iraqis took to the streets to celebrate, including in the second city Mosul and the capital Baghdad, singing patriotic songs, waving the national flag and shouting "Iraq, Iraq!"

The Sunni extremists of ISIS seized control of large parts of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in 2014, declaring a cross-border "caliphate" and committing widespread atrocities.

Backed by a US-led coalition, Iraqi forces gradually retook control of all territory lost to the militants over the past three years.

The head of the coalition on Sunday congratulated the Baghdad government for defeating ISIS, but warned that more work needed to be done to ensure the militants do not strike again.

"Much work remains, and we will continue to work by, with and through our Iraqi partners to ensure the enduring defeat of Daesh (ISIS) and prevent its ability to threaten civilisation, regionally and globally," Lieutenant General Paul E. Funk II said in a statement.

On Saturday, the US State Department had also hailed the end of the group's "vile occupation", but cautioned that "the fight against terrorism" is not over.

Experts warn that ISIS remains a threat, with the capacity as an insurgent group to carry out high-casualty bomb attacks using sleeper cells.

Saudi Arabia also congratulated Iraq on Sunday, with a foreign ministry official calling the group's defeat "a grand victory on terrorism in the region", the official Saudi Press Agency reported.