Islamic State leader had announced "caliphate" from this site and flown black flag from its minaret since 2014
As Iraqi army forces prepare to take back their capital city of Mosul from the Islamic State, the extremist group has reportedly destroyed a symbol of its former dominance in Iraq, the historic Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its iconic leaning minaret.
The 12th century-mosque, known for its distinctive leaning “hunchback” minaret, was reduced to rubble on June 21, during the Battle of Mosul, as the Iraqi army was on the verge of liberating Mosul from ISIS.
The Islamic State news agency alleged that United States-led airstrikes destroyed the mosque, but the Iraqi army countered that the explosion was actually caused by ISIS itself. A video (below), presented by Iraqi army officials, appears to show the mosque exploding from within, rather than from above, would seem to confirm that ISIS was responsible.
The mosque was of great symbolic importance to ISIS, as it is the cite where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the group a “caliphate” on July 4, 2014. ISIS’ black flag had been flying on the minaret itself since that date.
Russian officials claim to have killed al-Baghdadi, according to news reports, but his these reports are unconfirmed.
The Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has said that ISIS’ destruction of the mosque amounts to an admission of defeat, and experts suggest that it was destroyed because of its symbolic importance to the extremist group, according to a report in the Guardian.
“They blew it up because they did not want the place they announced the caliphate from to be the place where the Iraqi military announces its victory over them,” said Hisham al-Hashimi, an author on extremist groups and a former government adviser.