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Iraq declares end of ISIS caliphate, but the war is far from over

Iraq declared the end of the Islamic State’s rule there Thursday — three years to the day after the terrorist group first announced its so-called caliphate. But with an estimated 50,000 civilians still trapped in Mosul with little food or water, the fight is far from over.

Iraqi forces claimed the symbolic victory after they seized the ruined Grand al-Nuri Mosque from ISIS in Mosul, punctuating an eight-month battle to retake Iraq’s second-largest city.

ISIS blew up the cultural and religious landmark one week ago, then attempted to blame the destruction on a U.S.-led coalition airstrike. The mosque, which was more than 800 years old, had represented a key prize for both sides since ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only public appearance there in 2014 to announce the beginning of the caliphate.

Iraqi forces say the offensive to retake Mosul is in its last phase, as the few hundred remaining ISIS fighters are largely confined to the Old City.