After capture of Mosul mosque, Iraq declares end of caliphate

 After eight month long warfare, Iraqi government troops on Thursday captured the ruined mosque at the heart of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group’s de facto capital Mosul. With this Iraq’s prime minister has declared ISIL’s self-styled caliphate at an end.

Iraqi authorities expect the long battle for Mosul to end in coming days as remaining Islamic State fighters are bottled up in just a handful of neighborhoods of the Old City. The seizure of the nearly 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque — from where ISIL proclaimed the caliphate nearly three years ago to the day — is a huge symbolic victory.
In a statement, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said, “The return of al-Nuri Mosque and al-Hadba minaret to the fold of the nation marks the end of the Daesh state of falsehood.”

The fall of Mosul would in effect mark the end of the Iraqi half of the ISIL caliphate, although the group still controls territory west and south of the city, ruling over hundreds of thousands of people. Its stronghold in Syria, Raqqa, is also close to falling.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said that a U.S.-backed Kurdish-led coalition besieging Raqqa on Thursday fully encircled it after closing the militants’ last way out from the south. These setbacks have reduced ISIL’s territory by 60 percent from its peak two years ago and its revenue by 80 percent, to just $16 million a month, said IHS Markit.

Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, Iraqi military spokesperson, said, “Their fictitious state has fallen.”

However, it still occupies an area as big as Belgium, across Iraq and Syria, according to IHS Markit, an analytics firm. ISIL fighters 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.

Prime Minister of Iraq has issued instructions to bring the battle to its conclusion, capturing the remaining portion of the Old City of Mosul.
The cost of the fighting has been enormous. In addition to military casualties, thousands of civilians are estimated to have been killed. About 900,000 people, nearly half the pre-war population of the northern city, have fled, mostly taking refuge in camps or with relatives and friends.
Those trapped in the city suffered hunger, deprivation and ISIL oppression as well as death or injury, and many buildings have been ruined.
Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) troops captured the al-Nuri Mosque’s ground in a “lightning operation” on Thursday, a commander of the U.S.-trained elite units told.

A military statement mentioned that CTS units are now in control of the mosque area and the al-Hadba and Sirjkhana neighborhoods and they are still advancing. Other government units, from the army and police, were closing in from other directions.
An elite Interior Ministry unit said it freed about 20 children believed to belong to Yazidi and other minorities persecuted by the jihadists in a quarter north of the Old City which houses Mosul’s main hospitals. A U.S.-led international coalition is providing air and ground support to the Iraqi forces fighting through the Old City’s maze of narrow alleyways.

But the advance remains arduous as ISIL fighters are dug in the middle of civilians, using mortar fire, snipers, booby traps and suicide bombers to defend their last redoubt.
Last Update:: 01/07/2017
Iraq Directory