TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – A commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Shaabi, praised the role of Shiite religious leaders in the recent recapture of the northern city of Mosul from Daesh (ISIS or ISIL).

“The military victory over the Daesh terrorist group in Mosul and other areas of Iraq was definitely achieved thanks to the great religious leaders and the fatwas (religious edicts) issued by them,” Seyed Ali al-Yaseri said in an interview with the Press Shia Agency News Agency.

“The fatwa of fighting (against Daesh) issued by the great religious leader (Grand Ayatollah Seyed Ali al-Sistani) was the main factor that inspired the Iraqi youth and fighters to go to the battlefields and sacrifice their lives in defense of their religion, sanctities and country,” the commander stressed.

Daesh militants made swift advances in northern and western Iraq over the summer of 2014, after capturing swaths of northern Syria.

However, a combination of concentrated attacks by the Iraqi military and the volunteer forces, who rushed to take arms after Ayatollah Sistani issued the fatwa calling for the fight against the militants, blunted the edge of Daesh offensive and forced the terrorist group to withdraw from much of the areas it had occupied.

Iraqi military forces on Thursday captured the Mosul mosque at the heart of the northern city, which Daesh had declared its de facto capital.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the liberation of the site of the symbolic al-Nuri Mosque in Old Mosul as “the declaration of the end of the statelet of Daesh.”

Iraqi authorities expect the long battle for Mosul to end in coming days as remaining Daesh militants are bottled up in just a handful of neighborhoods of the Old City.

Daesh stronghold in Syria’s Raqqa is also close to falling.