File photo shows Mosul's destroyed ancient leaning minaret, known as the "Hadba" (Hunchback), in the Old City after beig blown up byISIS fighters last week. Photo AFP/Mohammed El-Shaed
MOSUL, Iraq – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said that the liberation of the site of the symbolic al-Nuri Mosque in Old Mosul on Thursday is “the declaration of the end of the statelet of ISIS.”
ISIS blew up the historic site and its minaret last week.
"Exploding the al-Nuri mosque and al-Hadba minaret by ISIS, and its return to the nest of the homeland today is the declaration of the end of the ISIS statelet,” PM Abadi, also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces stated in Arabic, according to his official Facebook page.
Earlier in the day, Rudaw learned that PM Abadi was expected to deliver a victory speech in West Mosul on Thursday after Iraqi forces announced that they controlled the site of the now-destroyed al-Nuri Mosque and al-Hadba Minaret in Old Mosul where ISIS declared its caliphate in Iraq and Syria three years ago.
The commander of the Nineveh Operations Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarallah stated that the Federal Police and the elite Rapid Response Force liberated al-Jamhouri hospital and a number of medical departments in Shifa district near Old Mosul.
The Iraqis announced the liberation of the hospital after Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesperson for the US-led anti-ISIS coalition, confirmed Iraqi advances in Mosul on Thursday, noting that two ISIS holdouts remain, “the Old City and the al-Jamouri Hospital complex.”
“Iraqi grit, determination, and support from the Coalition will lead to the imminent liberation of Mosul,” Dillon stated on Twitter, adding that ISIS’ caliphate “is crumbling.”
Col. Dillon also told reporters in a news briefing Thursday that the full liberation of Mosul is closer to being “days, than week or weeks."
Yarallah also stated that four ISIS militants were arrested Thursday as they were trying to carry out suicide attacks in the eastern half of Mosul that was liberated in late January.
ISIS destroyed the 845-year old site last Wednesday as Iraqi forces were as close as 50 meters from it.
Yahya Rasool, the spokesperson for Iraq's Joint Command told Rudaw Thursday afternoon that "militarily" ISIS has been defeated in the entire Mosul. He said that there are still tens of ISIS militants in small places of Old Mosul. He called on the Iraqi people to "celebrate" the end of the extremist group in the city.
“There is no area in Mosul controlled by the terrorists,” Sabah al-Numan, the spokesperson for the US-trained Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) told Rudaw.
He added that there are some remaining ISIS militants in small places in “hiding” here and there in Old Mosul.
“They [ISIS militants] are present in two areas, but I do not say they are in control,” Numan said explaining that some of them are suicide bombers who want to target the Iraqi forces.
He added that they have helped some 600 families to escape the conflict areas.
Rudaw’s war reporter from Mosul said that clashes were ongoing in Old Mosul earlier in the day.
Iraq’s Joint Command said in a statement that the Sanjkhana district in Old Mosul was also liberated today.
Iraqi Federal Police said they liberated five Yezidis on Thursday as they pushed deeper into Old Mosul.
“The Federal Police units have set free 30 citizens that include 20 children and 5 Yezidis... who were held hostage by ISIS in Shifa district,” the Federal Police announced in a statement.
Iraqi forces had said two weeks ago that they recaptured Shifa district.
Thursday morning, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Iraq’s Joint Command in Baghdad to oversee the military plans for a “decisive war.”
Abadi and the military and security commanders for the Nineveh operations “discussed the war plans, and instructions were issued to our heroic forces and our commanders to decide the war,” a statement from Abadi’s office read.
The Iraqi forces are close in announcing “their big military victory over the ISIS militants,” Iraq’s Joint Command said in a separate statement on Thursday as it denied reports that its forces in Mosul were targeted by the US-led global coalition.
Iraqi forces have already liberated several other areas in Old Mosul, including Hazar al-Sada, Ahmadiyah, and Faruq 2.
On Tuesday night, Iraqi army said that less than two kilometers remained to be liberated in the old city.
Al-Nuri mosque is where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his so-called caliphate on July 4, 2014, naming himself “caliph,” leader of the whole Islamic world, seeking to found a new Islamic regime.
An effigy of the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, showing him head a ceremony in the al-Nuri mosuqe, burns during a protest in New Delhi on June 9, 2017 by Indian Shiites. It was in protest against the ISIS-claimed twin attacks in Tehran that killed 18 people. File photo: AFP | Prakash Singh
RETAKING OF MOSUL
From June 10, 2014 until today, ISIS has controlled Mosul for 1,116 days, or 3 years and 20 days.
Forces of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi overrun Mosul on June 10, 2014
When they threaten Shiite holy sites, Iraq's top Shiite cleric issues a call to arms against the group, bringing a flood of volunteers to militias.
Baghdadi declares ISIS caliphate on July 4, 2014
At the pulpit of the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared in a 21-minute video his so-called caliphate on July 4, 2014, naming himself “caliph,” leader of the whole Islamic world, seeking to found a new Islamic regime.
“Do jihad in the cause of God, incite the believers and be patient in the face of this hardship,” he said.
The mosque is named for Nur al-Din Mahmoud Zangi, an Islamic Kurdish ruler of Mosul and Aleppo, who had the mosque built in 1172 – 1173. Nur al-Din brought together Muslims in Iraq and Syria to form a united front against the crusaders.
Mosul offensive begins on October 17, 2016
"The hour has come and the moment of great victory is near," said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in a televised address. "I announce today the start of the operation to liberate the province of Nineveh."
Kurdish President Masoud Barzani was commanding all Peshmerga forces and arrived at the front with Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.
“[At 10 p.m.], Peshmerga forces in Khazir, East of Mosul had achieved their key objectives: clear nine villages and extend control over the Erbil-Mosul Road,” the General Command of the Peshmerga Forces announced at the end of the day.
Video of the Peshmerga breaking through the frontline barriers.
Iraqi forces enter Mosul on November 1, 2016
The Iraqi Joint Operations Command said their forces advanced towards Mosul city centre from the north and southeast, adding that their forces liberated several villages north, southeast, and southwest of Mosul.
Peshmerga liberate Bashiqa on November 11, 2016
The town of Bashiqa came under full control of Peshmerga forces but pockets of ISIS militants remained, only to be killed the days after.
Peshmerga made giant advances in Bashiqa from three directions.
Bashiqa had been surrounded by the Peshmerga for two weeks.
East Mosul declared liberated on January 24
“Security forces liberated the left coast fully today after expelling Daesh and have raised the Iraqi flags over government buildings,” Abadi announced in a press conference, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
West Mosul offensive begins on February 19
Addressing the Iraqi forces taking part in the operation, Abadi said, "I have told the world how brave you are and everyone is proud of you, of your success and victory with the people."
Correction: an earlier version of the story reported that the ISIS leader declared his caliphate on June 29, 2014 in Mosul. While it is true that the caliphate was declared on that date, Baghdadi named himself in the al-Nuri mosque a caliph or the leader of Muslims on July 4, 2014 in Mosul as he led Friday prayers.