Iraq: ISIS Caliphate Is No More
'The fictitious state has fallen'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2017 11:52 AM CDT
This undated frame grab from video shows the destroyed al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, Iraq.   (Aamaq News Agency via AP)

(Newser) – The Islamic State is a movement without an actual state anymore, says Iraq. "Their fictitious state has fallen," declared a spokesman for Iraq's military after its troops reclaimed the ruins of a landmark mosque in Mosul on Thursday. ISIS fighters had destroyed much of the Grand al-Nuri Mosque last week as their enemies closed in. The 12th-century site carries enormous symbolic importance, notes Reuters, given that ISIS announced the creation of its caliphate from there in 2014. "The return of al-Nuri Mosque and al-Hadba minaret to the fold of the nation marks the end of the Daesh state of falsehood," said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, calling the militant group by its common Arabic name.

But declaring an end to the caliphate might be premature. By one analysis cited by the BBC, ISIS still controls 13,980 square miles in Iraq and Syria, though that's down 40% just since January. That includes its stronghold in Raqqa, Syria, also in danger of falling, along with pockets of Mosul. Al Jazeera estimates that 100,000 civilians remain trapped in those Mosul neighborhoods, making the final push to oust militants complicated. ISIS fighters also are believed to be booby-trapping areas as they retreat from the city after three years.

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