Baghdad, June 29: Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Mosul on Thursday said they had captured the iconic Great Mosque of al-Nuri where, in 2014, the IS leader declared the so-called caliphate.
Joint Operations Commander Abdel Amir Jarallah issued a statement claiming that Iraqi counter-terror forces had liberated the al-Nuri mosque and the surrounding Serjkhana neighbourhood, reports Efe news.
Shortly after the terror group’s rise to power in the northern Iraqi city, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi used the mosque to deliver a speech in which he proclaimed the establishment of the group’s Caliphate.
The group last week toppled the Hadba minaret adjoining the mosque, causing extensive damage to the surrounding compound.
The mosque was one of the great monuments in Islam after the grand mosques of Mecca and Medina, al-Aqsa in Jerusalem and the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, rivalling others such as the Amr ibn al-‘As mosque in Egypt and other more modern structures.
Baghdadi has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and is believed to be hiding in the border area between Iraq and Syria, according to US and Iraqi military sources.
Mosul is the final urban stronghold of the IS in Iraq.