Iraqi PM Haider Abadi visiting government and militia forces in Tikrit following its liberation from ISIS in April, 2015. AFP file photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Friday that the town of Baiji is free from Islamic State (ISIS) militants after several months of fierce battles, describing it as “a valuable victory”.
Abadi who met with army and Shiite militia commanders known as Hashd al-Shaabi, said that the battle for Baiji proved the capabilities of the Iraqi forces.
“The battle for Baiji brought out the capacity of Iraqis and their persistence until they liberated their city which was embattled for seven months,” said the Iraqi premier as quote by his public relations office.
Baiji, 210 kilometers north of Baghdad, is home to Iraq’s largest oil refinery in the Sunni province of Salahaddin.
Abadi sent condolences to families of soldiers and militiamen killed in battle, adding that the government would not abandon the people of Baiji and their rights.
“Without the sacrifice and the blood of the martyrs such a victory would not have been achieved,” Abadi emphasized.
Meanwhile, a Shiite militia officer said that his forces were cleaning up roads in the area of explosives and landmines planted by ISIS.
"Iraqi forces cleared downtown Baiji and bomb disposal teams are working to defuse bombs laid in the streets and homes in the town," Karim Nuri, a spokesperson for militia told Rudaw following the town’s recapture.