The leaning minaret of al-Nuir mosque. By Faisal Jeber (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The leaning minaret of al-Nuir mosque. By Faisal Jeber (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Great Mosque of al-Nuri was destroyed on the night of June 21.
Islamic State has destroyed Mosul’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri. Iraqi forces have reported the heritage structure identifiable by its leaning minaret (al-Hadba) was blown up along with the rest of the mosque complex. Incidentally, the mosque was known to international observers as the one where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the IS announced a caliphate. The declaration was done in 2014.

IS denied this charge. They claimed the U.S. aerial bombardment destroyed the minaret and the mosque. This statement was done through Amaq, its news outlet. Haider al-Abadi, the Prime Minister of Iraq, responded, "Blowing up the al-Hadba minaret and the al-Nuri mosque amounts to an official acknowledgement of defeat." The minaret structure was a notable feat of engineering as it was made of decorative brickwork of seven bands arranged in a certain complex geometric pattern. This design is distinctive in Central Asia and the Persian region. The neglected minaret was vulnerable to explosives.

An Iraqi military commander deputed to take over the city said that the mosque was destroyed when Iraqi Government troops were within 50 meters of the structure. He described the act as a “historical crime.” This was echoed by Major General Joseph Martin, a highly placed U.S. commander said the terrorist organization has destroyed "one of Mosul and Iraq's great treasures."

The Great Mosque demolition was done on the night of June 21 when Iraqi forces came near the structure. The place has immense importance for the IS. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has not only declared himself “caliphate” from that structure, the ancient construction soon witnessed the black flag of the terrorist organization fluttering from its 150 feet minaret. Baghdadi is believed to have escaped Mosul, leaving the actual fighting to his local commanders. Intelligence sources believe he is in hiding in the border areas between Syria and Iraq.

Analysts believe the destruction of The Great Mosque could actually hasten the advancement of Iraqi Government forces. The army intentionally made slow progress in order to preserve the historical treasures of Mosul city. Prime Minister al-Abadi spoke the same when he expressed confidence the city will be liberated by Iraq's counter terrorism force within a few days. The same has been expressed by Ryan Dillon, the U.S. Army Colonel and spokesperson for the America led international coalition, said that anti-IS forces have to conquer only two square kilometers to free Mosul from the terrorists.

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