Iraqi forces capture iconic Mosul mosque where Islamic State declared 'caliphate'
The al-Hadba minaret at Grand al-Nuri Mosque was blown up by the Islamic State group last week. Photograph: (Reuters)
Iraqi forces on Thursday announced that they had recaptured Mosul’s iconic al-Nuri mosque.
This is the same mosque where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had made his only known public appearance in 2014.
"Counter-Terrorism Service forces control the Nuri mosque and Al-Hadba (minaret)," the Joint Operations Command said in a statement.
But Staff Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi said that while Iraqi forces were close to retaking the mosque, they were still some 20 metres (yards) away.
The seizure of the 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque is a huge symbolic victory for the Iraqi forces fighting to recapture Mosul, which had 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 mosque and its famed Al-Hadba (hunchback) leaning minaret were Mosul landmarks and also held major significance in the history of IS rule in Iraq.
The Al-Hadba minaret at the Grand al-Nuri Mosque was blown up by the Islamic State group last week.