(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Iraqi forces on Thursday recaptured the remains of a mosque in Mosul that became the symbolic center of the ISIS' self-declared caliphate after the group’s leader gave a sermon there three years ago.
Counterterrorism troops retook the area of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and are continuing to advance through the remaining streets of Mosul’s Old City, Iraq’s military said in a statement. However, the mosque is little more than rubble.
The Iraqi military released video footage a week ago that it said showed the moment that the militants detonated explosive charges in the building and its famed 8th century minaret, known as the hadba, or “hunchback,” due to its distinctive lean.
The mosque holds significance for the terrorists as the place where ISIS' leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only known public appearance in July 2014, calling on Muslims around the world to obey him as leader of the group’s new state. Just weeks before the terrorists had scored a stunning victory over Iraq’s armed forces in Mosul, which collapsed with little fight.
Commanders, however, say they are now in their final stretch, with less than a square mile of the city left to recapture. The winding narrow streets of the Old City make clearing it slow and painstaking work, as Iraqi forces are forced to move on foot.
Iraq’s counterterrorism troops retook the mosque, but they have not entered the remains of the building yet as it still may be rigged with explosives, Lt. Gen. Abdul Ghani al-Asadi, head of the force, told Iraqi news channel Afaq.