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Iraqi Military Says It Has Retaken Iconic Mosul Mosque

A destroyed minaret at the Grand Al-Nuri Mosque is pictured through a hole at an Iraqi-held position in the Old City in Mosul on June 27.

The Iraqi military says it has captured the ruins of a landmark Mosul mosque that was destroyed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group last week.

Lieutenant General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi said special forces on June 29 entered the compound of the Grand Al-Nuri Mosque and took control of the surrounding streets as they pushed through the last IS-held neighborhood in Mosul, the Old City.

On June 21, IS militants blew up the mosque and its iconic leaning minaret, built more than 800 years ago.

The mosque was where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi commanded allegiance in July 2014 following the IS group's declaration of a "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq.

Three years later, Baghdadi's fate and whereabouts remain unknown, and IS militants have lost much of the territory they overran in 2014.

A senior Russian diplomat on June 22 said Baghdadi was likely killed in a Russian air strike, but the U.S.-led coalition battling the IS group says it has no concrete evidence on whether the IS leader is dead or alive.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP