Iraqi forces have recaptured the northern city of Tikrit, which has been under ISIS control for several months, in a major victory in the fight against the jihadist group, which captured the city in August 2014.
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed al-Shami, reporting from Tikrit on Monday, said the recapture was a victory for the Iraqi government and for its coalition partners, as well as international forces, in the country’s battle against the jihadists.
“We are relieved that the liberation of Tikrat was accomplished, that our troops and Iraqi forces were able to advance on the ISIS stronghold,” Shami said.
“The liberation of this important city is a victory not only for the coalition but also for Iraq.
The victory is a result of all the efforts made by all the partners, the Iraqi forces and the international coalition.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi thanked his military command for its “wonderful” work, calling the recapturing of Tikriban “a great achievement”.
He said the liberation was the result of the efforts of the entire Iraqi military and security forces, which is now able to control large parts of the city, as long as the ISIS militants remain in the city.
“The liberation and protection of Tikraan is a great achievement for the forces of the state,” he said.
In the same breath, he stressed the importance of the coalition to recapture Tikrit and ensure the safe return of the Iraqi people to their homes.
“This liberation of the Tikrit area is a crucial step in our efforts to liberate Iraq from ISIS,” Abadi said.
“All the coalition forces and international forces are fighting for the liberation and safety of the people of Iraq.”
Tikrit, Iraq’s second largest city, was the main ISIS stronghold in the south and north of the country until 2015, when the group was defeated in Iraq’s Anbar province and fled to Syria.
It was then recaptured by Iraqi forces, backed by US and Russian air strikes, and Tikrit was recaptured in August 2016, following months of intense fighting.
Iraqi forces recaptured Tikrit in August.
Al Jazeera’s Shadia Nadeem reports from Tikrib.