The top U.S. military commander in Iraq has congratulated Iraqi forces for their "swift and decisive victory" in liberating Hawija, the last major bastion of Islamic State control in Iraq.
"Today's victory demonstrates we are stronger together, and this Coalition remains committed to supporting our partners in the tough fight ahead as we continue our mission to defeat ISIS," said Lt. Gen. Paul Funk in a statement.
The battle for Hawija lasted 14 days, and ended Thursday with the reported surrender of more than 1,000 dispirited ISIS fighters.
The fall of Hawija leaves ISIS in control of only a small sliver of desert in Iraq's Anbar province, a roughly 60-mile corridor from Rawah to Al Qaim, near the Syrian border.
"Iraqi Security Forces have taken Hawija city, but there are still areas to the east that must be cleared," U.S. military spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon told the Washington Examiner in an email. "We expect there to be more fighting in the days ahead before calling the end to Hawija operations."
The Iraqi forces conducting operations in Western Anbar province and have already secured the towns of Anah, Rayhanah, and Akashat.
"I expect that the remaining ISIS fighters will continue to be pushed east until they run into the Kurdish Defensive Line and are killed or captured," Dillon said. "We saw the same in the operations for Tal Afar."
With help of U.S. and coalition airstrikes, the government of Iraq and the ISF have liberated more than four million Iraqis and reclaimed over 16,000 square miles of territory once held by ISIS.
One day before the latest battlefield victory, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared ISIS was in death throes.
"ISIS' fraudulent caliphate in Iraq and Syria is on the brink of being completely extinguished, thanks to an aggressive new strategy led by the president," Tillerson said.
The U.S. also praised the fighting prowess of the rebuilt Iraqi forces, many of whom initially fled in the face of the ISIS onslaught in 2014.
"The ISF continues to prove they are a battle-hardened, professional force dedicated to ridding their country of an evil enemy," said a statement issued by the Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve.
"While the liberation of Hawijah is a significant milestone, an ISIS presence remains in Iraq, and the Coalition will continue to stand side-by-side with the ISF in their collective mission to defeat ISIS."