Iraqi Military: IS Blows Up Mosul Mosque Where It Declared 'Caliphate'

Kristopher Drake
June 22, 2017

An estimated 862,000 people have been displaced from Mosul ever since the battle to retake the city began nine months ago.

An IS-affiliated website, the so-called Amaq News Agency, claimed on June 21 that the Grand Al-Nuri Mosque and its ancient minaret were destroyed by a US air strike.

The mosque in Mosul, Iraq where Islamic State founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate is believed to be destroyed.

"This is the last chapter" in the offensive to take Mosul, said Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Asadi, the commander of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) elite units told Reuters at the time.

Isis say that the United States was responsible for the bombing that destroyed the mosque, according to Amaq, the group's news agency.

Iraqi troops backed by USA airpower launched a push earlier this week to drive out IS fighters surrounded in Mosul's Old City, after retaking several neighborhoods in western Mosul over the past few weeks. Iraq's ministry of defense says IS destroyed the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul and the adjacent iconic leaning minaret when fighters detonated explosives inside the structures late Wednesday night on June 21, 2017.

"This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organization must be annihilated", U.S. Maj.

Aerial photos show that the mosque and minaret has been largely destroyed.

Iraqi troops are slowly clearing the last pockets of IS fighters from Mosul's old city in an operation launched earlier this week.

The mosque, along with its minaret, was one of the most famous buildings in Mosul's Old City.

Al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself "caliph" - or ruler of all Muslims - from the mosque's pulpit on July 4, 2014, after the insurgents overran vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.

But ISIS blowing it up is being interpreted as the group acknowledging it will lose Mosul.

Militants later in 2014 attempted to destroy Mosul's great mosque, the BBC reported.

"We are attacking simultaneously from different fronts to break them into smaller groups which are easier to fight", said an officer from the Federal Police, another force taking part in the assault on the Old City.

UNHCR representative Bruno Geddo told AFP that aid groups need to be flexible during the fighting, with fears that tens of thousands of civilians are being held as human shields.

The area is seeing some of the fiercest fighting for the city, once the largest under Isis control in Iraq, as fighters dig in eight months after an advance on the city was announced.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

Discuss This Article