Iraq: ISIS ‘caliphate’ is coming to an end
Iraq recaptures Mosul mosque, declares war against ISIS is coming to an end.
Iraq on Thursday declared that the Islamic State (ISIS) group’s “caliphate” was coming to an end after it recaptured Mosul’s al-Nuri mosque, AFP reported.
The announcement came three years to the day ISIS announced its self-styled “caliphate”, encompassing swathes of territory its fighters overran in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
“Counter-Terrorism Service forces control the Nuri mosque and Al-Hadba (minaret),” said Iraq’s Joint Operations Command in a statement quoted by AFP.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hailed the recapture of the mosque as a sign of ISIS’s impending defeat.
“We are seeing the end of the fake Daesh state,” Abadi said in an English statement on his Twitter account, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
Thursday’s proclamation came one week after ISIS blew up the Grand al-Nuri mosque and its iconic leaning minaret, al-Hadba, in what Abadi alsosaid was a sign of ISIS’s defeat.
The U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition also said on Thursday that the end of the war against ISIS was near.
“I can’t put a timeline on that for them, but I see it closer to days than a week or weeks,” coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon said, referring to an announcement of Mosul’s recapture.
“The Old City remains a difficult, dense, suffocating fight,” Dillon said of the area of Mosul where the al-Nuri mosque is located.
But he praised the Iraqi forces’s “grit and determination” and said coalition support would help bring “an imminent liberation”.
Meanwhile, the fate of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi remains unknown. There have been several reports in recent months suggesting that he had been injured or even killed, including a claim by Russia earlier this month. None of those reports have been confirmed, however.