This iconic 800-year-old Iraqi mosque was just destroyed

The jihadists appear to have chosen to blow up the mosque rather than see their flag torn down by US -backed Iraqi forces battling through the maze of narrow alleys and streets of the Old City, the last district of Mosul still under the control of Islamic State. Its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi used it in 2014 to declare a “caliphate” as militants seized swathes of Syria and Iraq. It was the last time al-Baghdadi was seen in public. The offensive to retake Mosul began October 17, led by Iraqi security forces and aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, a Shiite-led militia, and the US -led worldwide coalition.Islamic State fighters have destroyed many Muslim religious sites, churches and shrines, as well as ancient Assyrian and Roman-era sites in Iraq and in Syria. The leaning minaret, known to locals as “the hunchback”, had been the city’s most famous landmark, and the last to survive ISIL’s assault on its history.Mohammed Tariq al-Bayati recalled growing up next to the mosque. “It is everywhere. I do not know how to put it into words. It’s just something people always identified with because it was always there”. Iraqi officials had said that retaking the mosque before the end of Ramadan would be an important symbolic victory. “I swear to God I can not imagine Mosul without Al Hadba”.Video shows the 12th century al-Nuri mosque being destroyed by the sick death cult to prevent allied troops from reclaiming the significant building.The mosque was destroyed as Iraq’s elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) fought their way to within 50 meters (150 feet) of it, according to an Iraqi military statement.”We feel very sad about the destruction of the mosque”.ISIS, through its news agency, said USA warplanes were responsible for the loss late Wednesday of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its leaning minaret.U.S. officials told that the ISIS claim was “1,000% false”, the CNN reported.U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the U.S. -led global coalition assisting the Iraqi effort to defeat Islamic State, said Iraqi security forces were continuing to push into remaining IS-held territory.It was the “clearest sign yet of desperation and defeat” from the militants, USA envoy to the coalition Brett McGurk said. IS released a statement blaming a USA airstrike.”As our Iraqi Security Force partners closed in on the al-Nuri mosque, [IS] destroyed one of Mosul and Iraq’s great treasures”, a senior USA commander in Iraq said in a statement.Lt. Gen. Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, commander of Iraqi counterterrorism, said Wednesday that he was shocked by the destruction of the mosque but it was not the first time ISIS had targeted Iraq’s cultural heritage.Presently the USA coalition is gaining pace in Iraq as Mosul might be liberated sooner than previously expected.Al-Jumaili, the archaeology professor, said he long feared the destruction of the mosque and minaret was inevitable. Many Sunni Arabs in the Middle East, who have suffered under the IS, believe that the terrorist group is a tool of their enemies-Shiite Iran, the West or Israel.”He follows the paradigm that no news is bad news”, said Sam Nunberg, a former campaign aide. The 845-year old al-Hadba Minaret was destroyed on Wednesday.IS fighters initially tried to destroy the minaret in July 2014, saying the structure contradicted their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.This picture shows the UNESCO-listed ancient city of Hatra, south of Mosul, on Thursday. In Mosul’s library, militants burned thousands of old books and manuscripts. Just days later, the city was overrun by the Islamic State. It was, he said, the “official announcement of their defeat”. It was only saved by incensed residents who gathered around it to protest.The mosque has dominated Mosul’s skyline for centuries and is pictured on Iraq’s 10,000 dinar bank note.Is the battle for Mosul over?