IS blows up historic mosque, losing last battle for Mosul
24 June, 2017
Islamic State (IS) group militants last Wednesday blew up the Grand al-Nuri mosque in Mosul, which had stood for over eight centuries and its famous leaning minaret had earned the city the nickname The Hunchback. Iraqi forces were approximately 50 metres from the mosque, which is situated in the heart of Mosul’s Old City, when IS militants detonated it, a senior Iraqi military official said. The mosque’s iconic leaning minaret, al-Hadba, was also destroyed.
It was at the Grand al-Nuri mosque that the IS group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, made his only public appearance in 2014. The mosque rapidly came to represent a symbol of the jihadist group’s power across swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria.
Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi tweeted that the destruction was an admission by the militants that they are losing the fight for Iraq's second-largest city. "Daesh's bombing of the al-Hadba minaret and the al-Nuri Mosque is a formal declaration of their defeat," al-Abadi said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.
IS claimed on its Amaq propaganda agency that the site was hit in a US strike, but that assertion was firmly denied by US military officials. "We did not strike in that area," coalition spokesman US Air Force Colonel John Dorrian told Reuters by telephone.
The destruction of two of Mosul’s best-known landmarks came on the fourth day of an Iraqi offensive backed by the US-led coalition on the Old City, where the jihadists are making a bloody last stand. About 100,000 residents are believed to still be trapped in the historical center of the city by IS, which has been using civilians as human shields.
The fight to retake Mosul was launched more than eight months ago and has displaced more than 850,000 people.