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.
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Smoke billows from the Islamic State militants positions after an artillery attack by Iraqi forces Photo: REUTERS
"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 US-backed Iraqi forces started a push in its direction. Their black flag had been flying from al-Hadba (The Hunchback) minaret, since June 2014.
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A destroyed al-Hadba minaret at Grand al-Nuri Mosque (L) is seen from an Iraqi held position at the Old City in Mosul, Iraq June 27, 2017 Photo: REUTERS
Iraqi authorities expect the battle to end in the coming days as IS has been bottled up in a handful of neighbourhoods of the Old City.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi "issued instructions to bring the battle to its conclusion," his office said on Wednesday.