Iraqi government troops on Thursday captured the mosque in Mosul from where Islamic State proclaimed its self-styled caliphate three years ago, the Iraqi military said.
Seizing the 850 year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque hands a symbolic victory to the Iraqi forces who have been battling for more than eight month to recapture Mosul, the northern city that served as Islamic State’s de facto capital in Iraq.
“Their fictitious state has fallen,” an Iraqi military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, told state TV.
The insurgents blew up the medieval mosque and its famed leaning minaret a week ago as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces started a push in its direction. Their black flag had been flying from al-Hadba (The Hunchback) minaret, since June 2014.
Iraqi authorities expect the battle to end in the coming days as Islamic State has been bottled up in a handful of neighborhoods of the Old City.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi “issued instructions to bring the battle to its conclusion,” his office said on Wednesday.