Iraqi government forces have breached the Daesh Takfiri terrorists’ defenses to push deeper into the last remaining stronghold of the extremists in the western part of Mosul.
Commander of Federal Police Forces Lieutenant General Shaker Jawdat said in a brief statement on Thursday that security personnel had regained control over the Grand Mosque of al-Hamidin in the Bab al-Baid area of Mosul, and were making progress in an operation to seize back the Church of Simeon.
Separately, an intelligence source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network that security forces had killed the official in charge of Daesh bomb attacks.
The source said the extremist, identified by the nom de guerre Abu Furqan al-Mawseli, was killed along with 15 other terrorists as government soldiers raided a house in the al-Shifa district of western Mosul.
‘Destruction of iconic Mosul minaret deepens Iraqis’ wounds’
Meanwhile, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has strongly condemned the destruction of Mosul's trademark leaning minaret by Daesh extremists in the wake of Iraqi forces’ advances, stating that such a move “deepens the wounds” in war-torn Iraq.
“This new destruction deepens the wounds of a society already affected by an unprecedented humanitarian tragedy,” the head of the UN's cultural agency, Irina Bokova, said in a statement on Thursday.
Bokova also pledged UNESCO’s “renewed solidarity and readiness to support, restore and rehabilitate cultural heritage whenever possible.”
Daesh extremists late on Wednesday blew up the 12th-century Hadba (Hunchback) minaret along with the Grand al-Nuri Mosque, where purported Daesh ringleader Ibrahim al-Samarrai aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the forming of the group's so-called caliphate back in 2014.
Iraqi authorities and officials from the US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh terrorists said the destruction of the site, sometimes referred to as Iraq’s Tower of Pisa, is a sign of the extremists’ imminent loss of Mosul.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described the destruction an “official declaration of defeat.”
Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by their Arabic name, Hashd al-Sha’abi, have made sweeping gains against Daesh since launching the Mosul operation on October 17, 2016.
The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.
An estimated 862,000 people have been displaced from Mosul ever since the battle to retake the city began nine months ago. A total of 195,000 civilians have also returned, mainly to the liberated areas of eastern Mosul.