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Iraq Celebrates Victories Over Islamic State With Military Parade

Iraqi military soldiers parade during a ceremony marking victories over Islamic state group in central Baghdad, Iraq, 14 July 2016

Iraq's military paraded through Baghdad to celebrate recent victories over the Islamic State group on July 14.

Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi reviewed the forces from a pavilion as they passed through Tahrir Square, and military jets and helicopters overflew the city.

Hundreds of policemen locked down central Baghdad for the parade, which featured artillery, tanks, and rocket launchers. Clad in black fatigues and matching ski masks, the elite counterterrorism force took part in the parade.

The paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces, an array of Shi'ite militias set up after IS blitzed through much of northern and western Iraq in 2014, also took part in the parade.

The celebration came after Iraq's retaking of Fallujah from IS last month and ahead of an expected assault on Mosul, the last major Iraqi city still under IS control.

But all the military hardware on display instilled fear rather than pride in some citizens, who speculated on social media that it was a message to protesters planning a demonstration on July 15 that Abadi had warned against.

Powerful Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called the demonstration to push the government to carry out reform, after a break in protests during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP