Iraqi commander declares Fallujah 'fully liberated' from Islamic State

Fallujah was the first Iraqi city to be captured by the terrorist group

fallujah, islamic state, iraq

Iraqi security forces advance their positions during heavy fight against Islamic State group militants in Fallujah last week | Photo: PA Images

The Prime Minister of Iraq has visited Fallujah for the first time after government forces regained control of the city after more than two years in the hands of Islamic State, according to a senior military commander. 

Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahad al Saadi made the announcement today after his troops entered the northwestern al Julan neighbourhood, the last area under IS control.

He said the campaign, which began in May, "is done and the city fully liberated".

"From the centre of al Julan neighbourhood, we congratulate the Iraqi people and the commander in chief ... and declare that the Fallujah fight is over," al Saadi told Iraqi state TV, flanked by military officers and soldiers.

The fighting had prompted thousands of the city's residents to flee, with some killed by sniper fire from the militants, explosives planted along roads or from drowning in the Euphrates.

Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, was the first Iraqi city to be captured by Islamic State. Along with Mosul, it is one of two major urban areas held by IS.

The terror group took control in January 2014, six months before announcing a self-proclaimed caliphate in areas of Iraq and Syria.

The city had a population of more than 320,000 in 2010 but this has dwindled, with estimates at the beginning of the campaign ranging from 50,000 to 70,000.

Fallujah is a historic bastion of the insurgency against the US occupation of Iraq and the Shia-led authorities who took over after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, in 2003.