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IS destroys 840-year-old al-Nuri mosque in Mosul

23 June 2017

The al-Nuri mosque dated back to 1172 and was Mosul's most famous Sunni mosque.

Iraqi Newsquoted Iraq's Defence Ministry's war media cell as saying that the forces destroyed a weapons reservoir and killed ten militants near the mosque, where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi delivered a sermon declaring the establishment of the group's rule in Iraq and Syria.

Al-Abadi termed the act as an "official declaration of defeat".The US-led coalition forces who are assisting the Iraqi government in the anti-Isis battle also stated that the deliberate destruction of the mosque signalled Isis' imminent loss in Mosul.

It was there, in the summer of 2014, that the IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ascended a pulpit and declared a caliphate after his fighters took control of Mosul and swept through other parts of northern Iraq and Syria.

The loss of the unmistakable 12th century minaret - one of the country's most recognizable monuments sometimes referred to as Iraq's Tower of Pisa - left the nation in shock.

The IS blew up the mosque during the celebrations of Laylat al Qadr, the holiest night of the year for Muslims.

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It also come just days before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and the Eid-al-Fitr holiday.

An ISIS statement posted online shortly after the Ministry of Defense reported the mosque's destruction blamed an airstrike by the United States for the loss of the mosque and minaret, which the USA denies.

This claim was quickly denied by the USA -led coalition fighting the militant group.

'We did not strike in that area, ' said coalition spokesman US Air Force Colonel John Dorrian. ISIS took over the area in 2014 and a year later released videos of its soldiers destroying artifacts on Hatra grounds with sledgehammers and automatic weapons. The militants said the structure contradicted their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, but Mosul residents converged on the area and formed a human chain to protect it.

The mosque is named after Nuruddin al-Zanki, a noble who fought the early crusades from a fiefdom that covered territory in modern-day Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Residents said ISIS fighters have massacred people, young and old, trying to flee.

Baghdadi has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and is believed to be hiding in the border area between Iraq and Syria, according to USA and Iraqi military sources.

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While Iraqi forces have made good progress to reach the Nuri Mosque, Iraqi commanders have warned that the battle for the Old City is far from over. Martin pledged continued to support to the Iraqi security force "as they bring these terrorists to justice'".

"We feel very sad about the destruction of the mosque".

Since the launch of the offensive in Mosul in October 2016, around 750,000 to 800,000 people have been displaced from the city; many are trapped or being used as human shields.

"The enemy destroyed this historic place because they are savages", Brigadier Bassim Ahmed Lenayt Allah, of the Iraqi military said.

Some analysts said the destruction of the mosque could in fact speed the advance of government forces, which had been slowed by fear of damaging it. Yasser Ali, 38 years old, called the minaret "Mosul's symbol and icon".

Mosul's Old City is being reduced to rubble.

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IS destroys 840-year-old al-Nuri mosque in Mosul