Iraqi troops today captured the mosque in Mosul from where Islamic State proclaimed its self-styled caliphate three years ago.
Seizing the 850 year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque hands a symbolic victory to the Iraqi forces.
“Their fictitious state has fallen,” an Iraqi military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, told state TV.
Troops have battled for more than eight month to recapture Mosul, the northern city that served as Islamic State’s de facto capital.
The black flag ISIS had been flying from the mosque’s famed leaning minaret since June 2014. The terrorist group blew up al-Nuri mosque last week, after it became clear that Iraqi forces were targeting the area.
Iraqi authorities expect the battle to end in the coming days, after the Islamic State was bottled up in a handful of neighbourhoods of the Old City.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi “issued instructions to bring the battle to its conclusion,” his office said on Wednesday.
Iraqi special forces took control of the area around the mosque on Thursday in a dawn push, before seizing the compound.
It is likely that the area has been rigged with explosives by ISIS militants, warned a special forced Major General.
Around 300 extremist fighters are still in the area of the Old City, but the battle is expected to come to a conclusion within the next few days.
The cost of the victory is a heavy one. Thousands of civilians have been killed during the ferocious fighting and US-led bombings, and almost a million people have been driven from their homes in the city.