By Chaimaa ZahaarRabat – The Iraqi army said on Thursday that it had seized the site of the great Al Nouri mosque in the old city of Mosul, where the leader of the Islamic terrorist group (ISIS) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had proclaimed a caliphate in 2014.“Their mythical state has fallen,” Iraqi national television spokesman of the Iraqi army, General Yahia Rassoul, said of the caliphate. The medieval Al Nouri mosque, with its inclined minaret, was destroyed by the Islamic state on 22 June. The black flag of the jihadists had floated on top of Al Hadba, the lean minaret, since June 2014. The IA now controls only a portion of the old city of Mosul, which was its “capital” in Iraq, and the capture of the Al Nouri Mosque is a symbolic victory for the Iraqi army. The mosque takes its name from Nuruddin al Zanki, a nobleman who had fought the Crusaders, and was erected in 1172-1173.The Iraqi authorities expect that the fighting in Mosul will end in the days to come, as the Islamic state’s area is shrinking. The army’s progression is no less difficult because the last jihadists, who last week were at most 350 according to Baghdad, mingled with the civilian population and carried out suicide operations to delay their fall.The anti-terrorist unit seized the site of the mosque in a “lightning operation,” said a commander of the elite units on national television. Civilians living nearby were evacuated in recent days via corridors.
Some 367 refugees were transferred to a camp at Iridimi at the weekend, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Kris Janowski told reporters today in Geneva.Iridimi’s first arrivals mean almost 13,000 refugees have now been transferred to four camps – the others are living at camps in Touloum, Farchana and Kounoungo.The camps were set up by UNHCR and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) well away from the Chad-Sudan border, where an estimated 110,000 refugees have been staying since fleeing Sudan. Sudanese militias had been attacking the border shelters, prompting the UN to find safer sites.Mr. Janowski said a fifth camp, at Goz Amer, should start accepting refugees from the border zone soon. It will be the first camp within its region of eastern Chad, which is next to Darfur.UNHCR, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the NGO known as CARE and Chad’s national refugee agency distributed aid to 6,000 Sudanese refugees in the border town of Bahai over the weekend, he said.Many of the refugees there had already used up their savings and food supplies and had been relying on food donations from local Chadians and on doing small jobs in return for money to buy food, according to UNHCR.Fighting between the Sudanese Government, local militia and rebel groups, including the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), since March last year has driven thousands of people from Darfur and internally displaced another 700,000 people in Sudan, which has a total of 3 million to 4 million displaced throughout the country largely as a result of its 20-year civil war.