Iraq army announces liberation of Diyala from ‘Islamic State’
MUQDADIYAH - Iraqi forces have "liberated" Diyala from the Islamic State jihadist group, retaking all populated areas of the eastern province, a top army officer said on Monday.
"We announce the liberation of Diyala from the (IS) organisation," Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir al-Zaidi said.
Iraqi forces have regained "complete control of all the cities and districts and subdistricts of Diyala province," he said.
The last battle for a populated part of the province took place from Friday to Monday in the Muqdadiyah area, northeast of Diyala capital Baquba.
Zaidi and district council chief Adnan al-Tamimi both said that Iraqi forces were in control of the entire area, which includes the town of Muqdadiyah and various villages, where the fighting took place.
Zaidi said that 58 members of pro-government forces were killed and 248 were wounded in the fighting, while "more than 50" IS fighters died.
The general said that there will still be further fighting against IS in the rural Hamreen mountains, which stretch across multiple provinces, including Diyala.
IS spearheaded a lightning militant offensive that began in the northern city of Mosul in June and swept down to overrun much of Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland.
Iraqi federal forces, Kurdish troops, Shiite militiamen and Sunni tribesmen are all fighting against the jihadists in various parts of the country.
A US-led coalition is carrying out air strikes against IS in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria, and also advising and training Iraqi forces.