Iraq Says ISIS Blew Up Mosul's Historic Great Mosque Of Al-Nuri

(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File). The black flag no longer flies from the tipping minaret.

The Iraqi military's media office distributed a picture taken from the air that appeared to show the mosque and minaret flattened in the middle of the small houses of the Old City, the historic district where the militants are besieged.

(AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File). In the background is the leaning minaret.

Soldiers in Mosul tell VOA that IS wanted to destroy the mosque in advance of an Iraqi and Coalition victory over the group in Mosul.

The mosque, also known as Mosul's Great Mosque, is where Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a socalled Islamic caliphate in 2014 - which is when the had group initially tried to destroy the leaning minaret, which had stood for more than 840 years.

Syrian forces have also been accused of pillaging sites after recapturing them from ISIS or rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad. Federal police earlier this year said they looked forward to praying in al-Nuri - but the resistance continued.

Reuters reported that the bombing allegedly happened during a raid by the Iraqi forces, and Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the act of destroying the mosque served as an announcement of ISIS's defeat.

The "Night of Power" commemorates when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during the holy month of Ramadan, which is in its waning days.

Nur al-Din's Great Mosque was distinguished by its elaborate minaret, which climbed to a height of 150 feet.

"We received 12 people killed and more than 20 wounded in our field hospital, including women and children", Ahmed Hashem told AFP from a nearby field hospital.

"It is the city's icon, I can say that Mosul has died", the longtime resident added.

Amaq, the news agency of ISIS, said United States warplanes were responsible for the destruction of the mosque, a charge USA officials vehemently denied, saying that there were no U.S. airstrikes in the area at the time. "And we will build a thousand minarets after kicking out ISIS, who were sent to us to carry out agendas that attempt to eradicate the Sunnis and erase them from this city".

ISIS militants have targeted other historic sites for destruction, including ancient outdoor structures and artifacts in museums in Syria. Both Iraq and the USA said ISIL blew up the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul. Gen. Joseph M. Martin, commanding general of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command-Operation Inherent Resolve. "What is surprising about this case is that it was important to the narrative of Islamic State".

The armed group have lost much of their territory over the last three years, and Mosul is their last urban bastion in Iraq.

The U.N. special envoy to Iraq, Ján Kubiš, said that the Islamic State's decision to blow up the mosque was "a clear sign" of the group's imminent collapse.

Iraq's Prime Minister said the destruction of the iconic mosque is ISIL's 'declaration of defeat'. Satellite photographs of St. Elijah's Monastery released in 2016 showed a number of rooms at the complex had been ruined after ISIS gained control of Iraqi forces in the area.

They continue to fight on, and will eventually liberate all of Mosul. While Iraqi forces have experienced periods of swift gains, combat inside the city has largely been grueling and deadly for both Iraqi forces and civilians.

The destruction caused anger and grief for Mosul's people, who affectionately call the tower al-Hadba, or "the hunchback".

  • Zachary Reyes