ISIS has blown up the iconic mosque where it announced its own so called caliphate in 2014, an Iraqi officer has said.
The terror’s group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only public appearance on the balcony of the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul that year.
Iraq’s Joint Operation Command today released a satellite image showing the mosque lying in rubble.
The terror group is said to have blown it up to cover its escape as Iraqi soldiers advanced on the Grand Mosque in the Old City, ISIS’s last stronghold in Mosul.
‘Our forces were advancing toward their targets deep in the Old City,’ Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir Yarallah said today.
He added: ‘When they got to within 50m of the al-Nuri mosque, Daesh (ISIS) committed another historical crime by blowing up the Nuri mosque and the Hadba mosque.’
The mosque, whose minaret has leaned like Italy’s Tower of Pisa for more than 840 years, seen as a symbolic prize in the fight for Iraq’s second largest city.
ISIS’s notorious black flag has been flying from one of its minarets since the terrorists captured Mosul, as well as swathes of Iraq and Syria, in 2014.
The terrorists sealed off all roads leading to the place of worship last month but today, US-backed Iraqi soldiers moved in on the mosque following an eight-month-long campaign to recapture Mosul, ISIS’s de-facto capital in Iraq.
‘The Daesh (ISIS) terror gangs committed another historical crime by blowing up the al-Nuri mosque and its historical al-Hadba minaret,’ an Iraqi military statement said today.
The destruction of two of Mosul’s best-known landmarks – which ISIS claimed were obliterated by an airstrike – comes on the fourth day of a US-backed Iraqi offensive on the Old City.
The destruction adds to a long list of Iraqi heritage sites and monuments the jihadist organisation has destroyed in Iraq and Syria.
The fall of Mosul would mark the end of the Iraqi half of the ‘caliphate’ even though ISIS would continue to control territory west and south of the city, the largest they came to control in both Iraq and Syria.
The fight to retake Mosul was launched more than eight months ago and has forced as many as 850,000 from their homes.