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Troops force 'Islamic State' from their final stronghold

Iraqi forces have liberated the final town to be held by the terror group.

Iraqi soldiers have now fully liberated the last town held by IS.
Iraqi soldiers have now fully liberated the last town held by IS. AP

So-called Islamic State have been forced out of their final stronghold in Iraq in a defeat that marks the collapse of their self-styled caliphate in the country.

Troops backed by the US-led coalition against IS have now fully liberated the town of Rawa, said the country's defence ministry spokesman.

He said it took military units and local tribal fighters just five hours to defeat the terror group and drive them from the final town they had held in the country.

All that now remains of IS-held Iraq are patches of rural territory in the country's vast western desert along the border with Syria.

The historic victory has been celebrated within Iraq and by anti-IS partners around the world.

Brett McGurk, the Special Presidential Envoy for Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, said the "days of [IS'] phony 'caliphate' are coming to an end."

Troops raised the Iraqi flag in territory liberated from IS near Rawa.
Troops raised the Iraqi flag in territory liberated from IS near Rawa. AP

The victory comes just three years after IS grabbed swathes of territory including the city of Mosul in the summer of 2014 and claimed it was founding its own Caliphate straddling IRaq and Syria.

But the terror group has been steadily losing ground in recent months.

Mosul was [retaken in July](http://Final days of frontline battle against IS in Mosul) this year, while Raqqa - the former Islamic State group's capital across the border in Syria - [fell to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces](http://US-backed Syrian forces declare victory over IS in Raqqa)in October.

The group still remains active in the shrinking territories which is still controls.

The last urban areas still controlled by the militants in Syria are the border town of Boukamal and a patch of territory near the capital, Damascus, and in central Hama province.

IS has also continued to run its media arm to recruit following across the world and inspire terror attacks internationally.

Iraqi and American officials say IS militants are expected to continue carrying out insurgent-style attacks in Syria, Iraq and beyond.

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