Brigadier General, Yahya Rassol, a military spokesman, told Iraqi state TV “The fictitious state has fallen,” after Iraq’s U.S, backed military seized the ruins of the famed al-Nuri mosque in Mosul on Thursday.
Lt. Gen. Abd al-Amir Yarallah said in a statement that Iraqi forces now controlled the ruins of the mosque and the minaret and are continuing their push to clear militants out of Mosul’s Old City.
ISIS fighters destroyed most of the ancient mosque last week and kept control of the iconic structure.
Col. Ryan Dillon, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, called the capture of the mosque a “significant” victory for the government and expected an announcement from Iraq’s government.
The offensive to clear Iraq’s second largest city began in October and posed a major test for the country’s military, which has been backed by U.S. advisers and air support from a U.S.-led coalition of nations.
General Abdul Rahman said “although militants are still fighting Iraqi forces in Mosul and several smaller cities, the capture of the mosque will serve as a big moral victory by the population of Iraq and our forces.”