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Iraqis Recapture Mosul State Buildings From IS

Iraqis Recapture Mosul State Buildings From ISIraqis Recapture Mosul State Buildings From IS

Iraqi government forces fighting to drive the self-styled Islamic State terrorists from western Mosul on Tuesday recaptured the main government building, the central bank branch and the museum where three years ago the militants had smashed statues and artifacts. The government buildings had been destroyed and were not used by IS, but their capture still represented a symbolic victory in the battle over the militants' last major stronghold in Iraq.

"An elite Rapid Response team stormed the Nineveh governorate building and government complex in an overnight raid," spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Abdel Amir al-Mohammadawi said. They also seized a building that housed the militant group’s main court of justice.

The militants looted the central bank when they took over the city in 2014 and took videos of themselves destroying statues and artifacts. 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 Iraqi 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 alleyways. The militants are dug in among civilians in the historic district.

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