In Mosul, Iraqi Forces Take Landmark Mosque Blown Up by IS

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) -
An Iraqi special forces soldier moves towards the front line near the al-Nuri mosque during fights against Islamic State terrorists in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

An Iraqi commander said Thursday his forces have taken Mosul’s landmark al-Nuri Mosque compound that was destroyed by the Islamic State terror group last week.

Lt. Gen. Abdul Wahab al-Saadi says special forces entered the compound and took control of the surrounding streets on Thursday afternoon, following a dawn push into the area.

Earlier, special forces Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi warned the site will need to be cleared by engineering teams as IS terrorists likely rigged it with explosives.

Iraqi forces are pushing through the last IS-held neighborhood in Mosul, the so-called Old City, to the west of the Tigris River.

The mosque is symbolic — from its pulpit, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in July 2014 declared a self-styled “caliphate” on IS-held territories in Syria and Iraq.