An aerial view of the destroyed landmark al-Nuri mosque in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, June 28, 2017. Felipe Dana/AP
29 June 2017 | Ben Watson | Defense One
“In a symbolic victory, Iraqi security forces finally took back the ancient mosque where ISIS declared its caliphate back in 2014. Other operations throughout the country are still ongoing.
Iraqi special forces carried out a pre-dawn assault on one of the last remaining neighborhoods of Mosul, Iraq, retaking the ruins of an ancient mosque ISIS detonated last week.
The advance effectively ends the Islamic State’s “caliphate” announced from that very mosque exactly three years ago.
After more than 1,300 airstrikes during the Mosul offensive, Iraq and its allies are feeling increasingly confident they can finish the job across the country — but exactly when is still anyone’s guess.
“This Coalition is on a fixed course, with a sound and proven strategy, committed to the military defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” Dillon wrote on Twitter.
The U.S.-led coalition has dropped more than 29,000 bombs and missiles during the Mosul offensive, which began on October 17, 2016, CENTCOM told Defense One.
“These munitions have destroyed 359 VBIEDs [car bombs], 781 buildings and facilities, 225 tunnels, 1,006 vehicles, 1,700 bunkers, 48 [anti-aircraft artillery], 685 artillery and mortar systems and 279 boats and barges.”
The toll on civilians has been enormous. The monitoring group Airwars, estimates nearly 1,800 civilian deaths have occurred from airstrikes alone near Mosul in just the first three months of the year.
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