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US, Iraq say ISIS blew up famous Mosul mosque

ISIS, by its information company, stated US warplanes had been liable for the loss late Wednesday of the Nice Mosque of al-Nuri and its leaning minaret. US officers instructed CNN the ISIS declare was “1,000% false.”

Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated the ISIS act quantities to “an official announcement of their defeat.” His army commanders stated militants blew the mosque up after troops closed in.

The destruction may quantity to a warfare crime, in accordance with the UN Human Rights Council.

“Such intentional destruction is an assault on the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Iraqi individuals — and the entire world,” the UN stated Friday. “Worldwide humanitarian legislation clearly prohibits such acts, and perpetrators who goal these objects whereas being conscious of their spiritual and historic character could also be held accountable for warfare crimes.”

Before-and-after photographs of the destruction.

It is troublesome to overstate the symbolic significance of the Previous Metropolis mosque, whose landmark minaret rose over the town for greater than 800 years.

It was throughout Friday prayers right here on July four, 2014, that ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the founding of a brand new caliphate and referred to as on fellow Sunnis to hold out a holy warfare. This was the primary and final time the chief of the terrorist group spoke publicly to his followers. The mosque’s imam had been executed a few month earlier for refusing to affix ISIS, according to the United Nations.

Baghdadi’s declaration successfully broke down borders between Syria and Iraq, making a magnet for international fighters wanting to affix ISIS’ trigger. For years, the militant group’s black and white flag fluttered from the minaret, a logo of ISIS’ management.

However in latest months western Mosul has witnessed fierce preventing between ISIS militants and coalition forces who’re decided to liberate what was the nation’s second-largest metropolis.

The Islamic advanced has been very a lot on the thoughts of the Iraqi forces, who believed taking management of the mosque can be a extremely symbolic victory. Federal police earlier this yr stated they seemed ahead to praying in al-Nuri — however the resistance continued.

Now the centuries-old mosque advanced lies largely in ruins.

A number of US officers have instructed CNN in latest days that US and coalition officers had been observing the mosque in latest days and noticed fighters and explosives on the web site. The Iraqi army stated “ISIS terrorist gangs” blew up the mosque as Iraqi forces had been approaching.

Destruction got here as troops moved in

The scenario in Mosul is desperate. As ISIS is being squeezed into even smaller territory — a handful of neighborhoods and Mosul’s Previous Metropolis — the civilians held hostage are working out of meals. Residents stated ISIS fighters have massacred individuals, younger and previous, making an attempt to flee.
This is life inside Mosul's Old City

The UN kids’s company, Unicef, stated Thursday that kids in west Mosul “are being intentionally focused and killed to punish households and deter them from fleeing the violence.” In lower than two months, no less than 23 kids have been killed and 123 injured in simply that a part of the town, it stated.

About 100,000 civilians stay within the advanced battlefield.

Lt. Gen. Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, commander of Iraqi counterterrorism, stated Wednesday that he was shocked by the destruction of the mosque but it surely was not the primary time ISIS had focused Iraq’s cultural heritage.

“ISIS had ready to blow it up, they had been solely ready to see how far our forces can attain,” he stated. “We are not any extra going to drive them out of the Previous Metropolis, we’re going to kill all of them within the coming days.”

American army officers deplored the destruction of the mosque.

“As our Iraqi Safety Drive companions closed in on the al-Nuri mosque, ISIS destroyed one in every of Mosul and Iraq’s nice treasures,” stated US Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the highest US commander within the combat in opposition to ISIS in Syria and Iraq, stated: “I used to be simply in Mosul Wednesday afternoon and shut sufficient to see the mosque and its well-known leaning minaret. Little did I do know it was for the final time. That is simply one other instance that ISIS is a merciless, heartless and godless ideology that can’t be permitted to exist on this world.”

ISIS’ obliteration of historical past

The Particular Consultant of the UN Secretary-Normal for Iraq, Jan Kubis, stated Thursday that ISIS fighters’ destruction of the mosque was a “barbaric act” which “reveals their desperation and indicators their finish.”

The United Nations Instructional, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Director-Normal, Irina Bokova, tweeted that the lack of the mosque was “a cultural (and) human tragedy,” including: “We should shield heritage to guard individuals.”

Bokova additionally issued an announcement deploring the destruction of the traditional construction. “The Al Hadba Minaret and Al Nuree Mosque in Mosul had been among the many most iconic websites within the metropolis, and stood as a logo of identification, resilience and belonging.

“When Daesh focused the mosque and minaret a couple of month in the past, the individuals of Mosul fashioned a human chain to guard the positioning, proving as soon as once more that the safety of heritage can’t be delinked from the safety of human lives,” she stated.

“This new destruction deepens the injuries of a society already affected by an unprecedented humanitarian tragedy, with three million internally displaced individuals and 6,2 million in want of instant humanitarian help. This requires instant and strengthened worldwide mobilization.”

ISIS has rampaged by numerous cultural heritage sites in Iraq and Syria prior to now three years. The extremist group is a part of a puritanical pressure of Islam that considers all spiritual shrines idolatrous.
ISIS fighters earlier this yr destroyed a part of the historic Roman amphitheater within the historic Syrian metropolis of Palmyra, according to reports. That adopted earlier destruction within the archaeological web site.

Fighters additionally destroyed Iraq’s historic Assyrian metropolis of Nimrud in March 2015.

Earlier that yr, militants shoved stone statues off pedestals within the Mosul Museum and took sledgehammers to them and different artifacts. In July 2014, extremists in Mosul additionally destroyed what was believed to be the tomb of Jonah, a key determine in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities stated in 2015 that it had acquired studies the traditional Assyrian capital of Khorsabad had been destroyed.

CNN’s Arwa Damon, Ryan Browne, Nick Paton Walsh, Paul LeBlanc, Jennifer Deaton and Salma Abdelaziz contributed to this report.

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