MOSUL, Iraq — Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State group in Mosul on Monday retook an area where the jihadists levelled one of the city’s most well-known shrines in 2014, officials said.
“We retook control of Nabi Yunus area… raised the Iraqi flag above the tomb,” Sabah al-Noman, spokesman for the Counter-Terrorism Service spearheading the Mosul offensive, told AFP.
He said two other neighborhoods in eastern Mosul were also retaken from IS on Monday.
The Nabi Yunus shrine — which was built on the reputed burial site of a prophet known in the Koran as Yunus and in the Bible as Jonah — was a popular pilgrimage site.
In July 2014, weeks after overrunning Mosul and much of Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland, IS militants rigged the shrine and blew it up, sparking global outrage.
IS destroyed several other key landmarks in Mosul and elsewhere it considered as part of heretical rituals and practices.
Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani al-Assadi, a top commander in the CTS, said “about 90 percent” of east Mosul was now under government control.
Commanders have said it would only take a few more days to flush out the last jihadists remaining on the east bank of the Tigris River than splits the city in two.
The destruction of all bridges over the river in air strikes has made it difficult for IS fighters in east Mosul to resupply or escape to the west bank, which they still fully control.
The western side of Mosul, which is home to the old city and some of the jihadists’ traditional bastions, was always tipped as likely to offer the most resistance.