Iraqi forces recapture Mosul government buildings, museum
MOSULIraqi government forces fighting to drive the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from western Mosul have recaptured a main government building, a central bank branch, the Turkish consulate building and a museum that was ransacked by the group three years ago.
The government buildings captured yesterday had been destroyed and were not used by ISIL, but their capture represented a symbolic victory in the battle over the group’s last major stronghold in Iraq.
ISIL captured the Turkish consulate building on June 11, 2014, taking 49 people hostage, including Turkey’s then-consul to the city, Öztürk Yılmaz.
The 49 were eventually freed 101 days later on Sept. 20, 2014.
The building was used by ISIL for some time.
An elite rapid response team stormed the Nineveh Governorate building and government complex in an overnight raid, spokesman Lt.-Col. Abdel Amir al-Mohammadawi said.
They also seized a building that housed ISIL’s “main court of justice,” known for its harsh sentences, including stonings, throwing people off building roofs and chopping off hands, reflecting ISIL’s ideology.
The militants looted the central bank when they took over the city in 2014, while also taking videos of themselves destroying statues and artifacts at the museum.
Illegal traffic in antiquities that abound in the territory under their control, from the sites of Palmyra in Syria to Nineveh in Iraq, was one of their main source of income.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi flew into Mosul to visit the troops engaged in the fighting.
The breakthrough paves the way for the U.S.-backed forces to attack the militants in the old city of Mosul, the most complicated phase in the nearly five-month campaign due to the density of the population and the narrowness of the alleyways. The militants are dug in among civilians in the historic district.