TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Iraq on Monday celebrated the anniversary of its costly victory over the Daesh terror group, which has lost virtually all the territory it once held.
The government declared victory last December after a grueling three-year war in which tens of thousands of people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Entire towns and neighborhoods were reduced to rubble in the fighting.
Baghdad declared Monday a national holiday, and a moment of silence is planned for later in the day. Checkpoints in the capital were decorated with Iraqi flags and balloons, as security forces patrolled the streets playing patriotic music, AFP reported.
As part of the celebrations, authorities plan to reopen parts of Baghdad's fortified Green Zone – home to key government offices and embassies – to the public. The move is billed as an act of transparency following protests against corruption and poor public services.
Daesh swept into Iraq from neighboring Syria in the summer of 2014.
Iraqi troops eventually drove the terror group from all the territory it once held in Iraq, including in the climactic battle for Mosul, the country's second-largest city. Daesh still holds a small pocket of territory in Syria, near the Iraqi border.
More than 1.8 million Iraqis remain displaced across the country, and a staggering 8 million require some form of humanitarian aid, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.