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Iraqi forces capture historic Mosul mosque destroyed by Daesh

IRAQI FORCES CAPTURE HISTORIC MOSUL MOSQUE DESTROYED BY DAESH

Iraqi forces captured on Thursday the wrecked historic mosque of Mosul in which Daesh terrorist group proclaimed its self-styled "caliphate" three years ago, an Iraqi military statement said.

Taking the Grand al-Nuri Mosque hands a symbolic victory to the Iraqi forces which have been battling for more than eight month to capture Mosul, the northern city that served as Daesh's de-facto capital in Iraq.

The mosque is hugely symbolic — from its pulpit, Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in July 2014 declared a self-styled "caliphate," encompassing territories held by Daesh in Syria and Iraq, which was his only known public appearance.

Iraqi and U.S-led coalition officials say the terrorists blew up the medieval mosque and its landmark leaning minaret a week ago, as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces started a push in its direction, while the militant group says a U.S. airstrike was to blame.

Their black flag had been floating on al-Hadba, the ''hunchback'' minaret, since June 2014.

Special forces Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi says his troops won't enter the destroyed al-Nuri Mosque complex since militants have likely rigged it with explosives but will work to secure the area.

Thursday's development comes as Iraqi forces are pushing through the last Daesh-held neighborhood in Mosul, the so-called Old City, to the west of the Tigris River.

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