Iraqi forces have recaptured the site of Mosul’s landmark Grand al-Nuri Mosque, according to the country’s military. The victory comes three years to the date since Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) declared itself a Caliphate at the iconic building.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the capture marks “the end of the Daesh state,” Reuters reports.
Referencing IS, Iraqi military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, told state TV: “Their fictitious state has fallen,” according to Reuters.
The mosque and its iconic leaning minaret was destroyed by IS terrorists last week as forces from Iraq’s elite Counter Terrorism Service got within 50 meters (160ft) of the site.
The area will now need to be excavated by engineering teams as members of IS have likely planted explosives, says special forces Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi.
Officials had been hoping to recapture the historic 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque before the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Iraqi forces are making their way through the last neighborhoods under IS control in Mosul, AP reports. The military expects the eight-month battle to come to an end in a matter of days.
The site has been under IS control since 2014. On June 29 that year, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, official spokesman for IS, announced the group’s rebranding as the ‘Islamic State’ and declared areas under its control a Caliphate.