Iraqi PM pledges to rebuild national army to protect nation
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reaffirmed his government's commitment to establishing a national army to protect the country's integrity and unity on Saturday.
"We confirm our continuation to build a strong national army that defends Iraq's land and its citizens without exception and preserves the sovereignty of the state," Abadi said in a statement marking the 97th anniversary of Iraqi Army Day.
"We are building an army that belongs to a single and unified Iraq. It does not represent a certain party or a sect. Our heroic army fought a fierce war to save his people and his citizens and liberate his land from terrorism."
Al Iraqiya official television aired footage showing a graduation ceremony on the anniversary for the Iraqi College of War at its military camp in the Rustamiyah area southeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
On Jan 6, 1921, Iraq established the first battalion of its modern army by the British during their mandate over the country after World War I.
During the past three years, the Iraqi army with other security forces have fought fiercely against ISIL and liberated all the Iraqi lands, which were seized by the extremist group in mid-2014 in northern and western Iraq.