BAGHDAD, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- Iraq declared Saturday the liberation of all Iraqi lands from Islamic State (IS) militants after seizing the whole border areas and desert in western Iraq, the Iraqi military said.
"The liberation of all Iraqi lands from the IS has been completed and our heroic forces have tightened their grab on the Iraqi-Syrian border," Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rasheed Yarallah, commander of western Iraq operations, said in a brief statement.
The army forces and the paramilitary Hashd Shaabi brigades, backed by Iraqi helicopter gunships, managed to take control of the whole desert areas between the provinces of Nineveh and Anbar, Yarallah said.
The troops took control of over 90 villages and cleared 16,000 sq km in the last operation during the past 24 hours, he said.
The Iraqi forces are now in control of some 183 km from the Iraq-Syrian border, Yarallah added.