Iraqi Troops Seize ISIS's Main Bank Branch, Sharia Court in Mosul

Mosul
Smoke rises following an airstrike in western Mosul on March 6, during an offensive by Iraqi forces to retake the western parts of the city from ISIS. The military recaptured the city's government complex and a second bridge on the Tigris River, it said on Tuesday. Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty

Iraqi security forces on Tuesday captured the central bank's main branch in Mosul, which the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) had looted when it overran the city in 2014, a military spokesman said.

Rapid Response soldiers also seized a building that housed Islamic State's main court of justice, Lieutenant Colonel Abdel Amir al-Mohammadawi, a spokesman for the elite interior ministry units, told Reuters.

The court was known for delivering harsh sentences, including stonings, throwing people off building roofs and chopping off hands, reflecting Islamic State's extreme ideology.

The central bank branch and the justice court are in the same area as the main government buildings complex that Rapid Response stormed overnight.

Elite Iraqi security forces also dislodged ISIS militants from the main government buildings in Mosul on Tuesday, an Iraqi spokesman said.

Mosul's main museum, which was damaged and looted by the militants, was also taken, Lieutenant Colonel Abdel Amir al-Mohammadawi, a spokesman for the elite interior ministry Rapid Response units told Reuters.

A special Rapid Response team stormed the Nineveh governorate building and the surrounding government complex in an overnight raid that lasted about an hour, he said. "They killed tens from Daesh," he said, referring to ISIS by one of its Arabic acronyms.

Read more: Fleeing Mosul citizens are sickened by chemical agents, the U.N. says

Seizing the government complex would help Iraqi forces attack the militants in the nearby old city centre and mark a symbolic step towards restoring state authority over Mosul, even though the buildings are destroyed and not being used by ISIS.

The battle for Mosul, which started on Octtober 17, will now enter a more complicated phase in the densely populated old city where, the Iraqi military believes, several thousand militants are among the remaining civilian population.

It was from the grand al-Nuri Mosque in the old city that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared in 2014 a "caliphate" spanning parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria.

The old city lies on the western bank of the Tigris river that cuts Mosul in two halves. About 750,000 people were estimated by aid organizations to live in west Mosul when the offensive started on this side of the city on February. 19.

The Iraqi forces took the eastern half of the city in January, after 100 days of fighting. A U.S.-led coalition is providing key air and ground support to the offensive in Iraq's second-largest city.

Iraqi Troops Seize ISIS's Main Bank Branch, Sharia Court in Mosul | World
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