The Anbar province city of Heet celebrated the first anniversary of its liberation from the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) with a military parade.
Units from the army, police, tribal forces, emergency forces, traffic police and civil defence took part in the April 23rd procession, along with paramedics.
Heet is the first city in the province to hold a military parade "to reinforce the return to normalcy in the liberated towns in the province", al-Jazeera and al-Badiya Commander Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Muhammadi told Diyaruna.
"The military parade was held in central Heet, 70 kilometres west of Ramadi, with full participation from Iraqi forces and tribal fighters," he said.
The display of military force was intended to reassure the people of the province and send a message of defiance to ISIS, which will soon be driven from the western parts of the province, al-Muhammadi said.
The military forces paraded their vehicles and performed other displays as children waved Iraqi flags and saluted them, said Brig. Gen. Najib al-Khlifawi, commander of the Iraqi army’s 29th brigade.
"People are now free from this evil," he told Diyaruna.
The events of the day included a recitation of patriotic poems and a theatrical production put on by a local girls' school, Heet provincial council chairman Mohammed al-Heeti told Diyaruna.
"The girls' school theatre production depicted the courage, sacrifice and suffering of the tribal fighters during the battles to liberate Anbar’s towns," he said, and "the heroic efforts of soldiers and police officers".
Since ISIS was ousted from the district, he said, more than 90% of the families who were displaced by the group have returned to their homes in Heet.
Public services, including water and power plants, are now up and running, and many markets and shops are back in business, he added.
"The residents of Heet are celebrating and dancing to folkloric music on the first anniversary of the end of a dark period under the gangs of apostasy, murder and crime," Heet mayor Muhannad Zabbar told Diyaruna.
They now enjoy security and stability under the Iraqi forces, he said.
"In the upcoming days, there will be liberation battles in other western areas including al-Qaim, Rawa and Anah so that people can leave the displacement camps that have destroyed the lives of their children and go back to their homes," he said.