Iraqi PM: We will be free of ISIS in 2016

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vows to free the whole country from the Islamic State group in 2016.

Ben Ariel ,

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday vowed to free the whole country from the Islamic State group in 2016, AFP reported.

The Iraqi premier was speaking after security forces retook the city of Ramadi from the jihadists.

"If 2015 was a year of liberation, 2016 will be the year of great victories, terminating the presence of Daesh (ISIS) in Iraq and Mesopotamia," he said in a televised address, using the Arabic name for ISIS.

"We are coming to liberate Mosul, which will be the fatal blow to Daesh," he said.

Abadi did not make it clear whether Mosul would be the next battle or whether Iraqi forces would seek to retake other towns and cities first.

The prime minister congratulated the security forces on their recapture late Sunday of Ramadi, which they had lost in May following a devastating jihadist onslaught.

The Iraqi forces were congratulated for their victory by Western countries throughout the day on Monday.

The United States welcomed the Iraqi forces' victory over ISIS, with Secretary of State saying, "We commend the government of Iraq and the brave Iraqi forces that are displaying tremendous perseverance and courage in this fight."

A White House official said President Barack Obama, who is on vacation in Hawaii, had been briefed on the battle and had saluted the Iraqi forces' "courage and determination."

"We will continue to support our partners fighting against ISIL on the ground until it is defeated," the official said, using another acronym for ISIS.

Britain congratulated Iraq as well, with Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond speaking after the national flag was raised over the provincial capital of Anbar once it was liberated.

"This is the latest in a series of significant losses for Daesh. These barbaric terrorists have lost 30 percent of the territory they once held in Iraq," Hammond said in a statement.

"They have been driven out of cities across the country by Iraqi forces, with support from the UK and the global coalition," he added.

French President Francois Hollande congratulated Abadi on his army's liberation of Ramadi, saying it was "a major step" in the conflict.

"(Hollande) congratulated him on the liberation of the town of Ramadi by Iraqi forces, which constitutes the most important victory since the start of the fight against the terrorist organization Daesh," the president's office said in a statement following a phone call between the two leaders.

"It's a major step in the re-establishment of the authority of the state in Iraq," the statement added.