x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 24 November 2017

Iraqi prime minister urges unity in the final stages of liberation from ISIL

Haider Al Abadi is speaking as Iraqi forces are battling to pushing ISIL out of the remaining pockets of territory the group holds in the country

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi declares his country is in the "last days"  of the battle liberate Iraq from ISIL.  Joshua Roberts/Reuters
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi declares his country is in the "last days" of the battle liberate Iraq from ISIL. Joshua Roberts/Reuters

The Iraqi prime minister says the country is in its final stages of liberation from ISIL militants.

As Iraqi forces battled to push the extemists out of their last remaining pockets of territory, Haider al Abadi attributed the forthcoming victory over ISIL to iraqi unity and solidarity.

"Iraq was at a crossroads when ISIL entered using terror, the international community backed Iraq to prevent ISIL from spreading in the region," Mr Al Abadi said.

Speaking on Wednesday during a meeting with Yahia Nasseri, governor of the southern Iraqi province of Dhi Qar, the prime minister said, “We are in the final stage of liberating our territories and we will continue to train our forces as terrorism still prevails [in parts of the country].”

The recapture of territory has progressed swiftly since Iraqi forces, with American backing, retook the city of Mosul in July. In August, the Iraqi military command overseeing the anti-ISIL operation declared victory in Tal Afar, west of Mosul and announced Hawija, 240 kilometres north of Baghdad, would be the next battle against the militants.

"By maintaining its unity and through the readiness of our people to sacrifice their lives and through the wisdom of religious authorities Iraq came out victorious," Mr Al Abadi said.

Iraq has also carried out many economic reforms, after weathering a serious financial crisis. As a result, "the world has become confident in the Iraqi economy,” Mr Al Abadi said. "Today the country is stronger and is different than ever before and is considered a state of great importance in the world."

He stressed again the importance of maintaining unity in the country and described the Kurdish region's forthcoming independence vote as "unconstitutional".

“We live in one country and can not allow unilateral action,” he said.

On Tuesday the Iraqi parliament rejected the highly controversial Kurdish independence vote, which is scheduled to take place on September 25.

The decision has given the prime minister the authority to take all necessary measures to preserve national unity - although what those measures might entail is unclear.

But the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani, pledged to press ahead with the referendum despite the Iraqi parliament's vote.

On Wednesday, Mr Barzani said that Erbil - capital of the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region - considered the Baghdad parliament's decision "as non-binding".

Mr Barzani called on the Iraqi parliament to reconsider its decision as they "cannot break the will of the people of Kurdistan."