Iraq Military Says it Has Retaken Iconic Mosul Mosque
The Iraqi military announced on Thursday that special forces had recaptured the iconic Mosul mosque where jihadist chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only known public appearance, AFP reported.
A top special forces commander told AFP that while the Nuri mosque - which was blown up by the Islamic State group last week -- was close to being recaptured, it had not been retaken yet.
"Counter-Terrorism Service forces control the Nuri mosque and Al-Hadba (minaret)," the Joint Operations Command said in a statement.
But Staff Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi said that while Iraqi forces were close to retaking the mosque, they were still some 20 metres (yards) away.
The mosque and its famed Al-Hadba (hunchback) leaning minaret were Mosul landmarks and also held major significance in the history of IS rule in Iraq.
Baghdadi appeared during Friday prayers at Nuri mosque in 2014, soon after IS seized Iraq's second city, calling on Muslims to obey him.
Three years later, Baghdadi's fate and whereabouts remain unknown, and IS has lost much of the territory it overran in 2014.
The jihadists blew up the mosque and minaret on June 21 as they put up increasingly desperate resistance to the advance of Iraqi forces.
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