Three years ago, the Islamic State was in control of approximately one-third of Iraq's territory, Reuters reports. On Saturday, Iraq declared victory in its war against the terrorist organization. "Our enemy wanted to kill our civilization, but we have won through our unity and our determination," the BBC quotes Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi as saying. "We have triumphed in little time." Abadi says Iraqi troops are now in complete control of the border with Syria, which had been the final area under ISIS control. His announcement comes two days after Russia declared it had defeated ISIS in Syria. Abadi says Dec. 10 will be an Iraqi national holiday, and a victory parade is reportedly being planned for the coming days.
Despite Iraq's declaration of victory, there are up to 3,000 ISIS fighters remaining in Iraq and Syria, AFP reports. Experts say the next phase will be guerrilla warfare with the remaining fighters, who are either hiding in remote areas or among Iraqi civilians. In his speech, Abadi recognized the danger still presented by ISIS fighters and called terrorism "an eternal enemy." "Despite announcing final victory, we must remain vigilant," the prime minister said. It was a sentiment reinforced by the US. "The United States joins the government of Iraq in stressing that Iraq's liberation does not mean the fight against terrorism, and even against ISIS, in Iraq is over," US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert says.