A man with long beard, dressed in a black turban appeared for the first and the last time inside the 845-year-old iconic al-Nuri mosque of Iraq’s second large city, Mosul, in June 2014.
In his Friday sermon, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called from the pulpit of the mosque on the world’s Muslims to “obey” him as the head of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which seized the city a couple of days earlier.
Al-Baghdadi, soon to be one of the most wanted international terrorists, came out with a jihadist propaganda by saying “I was chosen to lead you.”
He fanned the flames of already ongoing wars that consumed Iraq and Syria, and urged all Muslims to join him in ”holy jihad.” He invited doctors, judges, engineers, and experts in Islamic jurisprudence to help develop the self-proclaimed “caliphate.”
His ambitious journey to build a caliphate, which attracted tens of thousands of radicalized Muslims from over 100 countries, lasted only three years.
On Thursday, Iraqi officials announced that army forces recaptured al-Nuri mosque, which was blown up by ISIS militants last week. The destruction of the mosque was described by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi as “official declaration of defeat.”
Iraqi state TV proclaimed the capture of the strategically important area with an urgent news ticker with these words: “The State of Myth Has Fallen.”
Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, the Iraqi military spokesman, was on the same page. “Their fictitious state has fallen,” he told the state TV.
The capture marks a highly symbolic and strategically significant moment in the war, allowing Baghdad to raise their flag at the heart of Mosul.
The capture of the Grand al-Nuri mosque is likely the final phase of recapturing all of Mosul, the goal Iraqi government declared to be reached very soon. After eight months of grinding fighting, the ISIS-held areas have shrunk to less than 0.8 square miles.
Old City, with its narrow streets, is thought to still host 100 well-armed jihadists, with tens of thousands of civilians trapped.
Struggle to recapture western Mosul started last year and government forces took over the eastern side of the city in January.
This article was possible thanks to your donations. Please keep supporting us here.