Mosul mosque destruction "shows Islamic State defeat"

Inc. All rights rese

Inc. All rights rese

The mosque, which is also known as Mosul's Great Mosque, is where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a so-called Islamic caliphate in 2014 shortly after Mosul was overrun by the militants.

Footage released by the Iraqi forces shows the ancient landmark being demolished. "We did not strike in that area this evening".

"In the early morning, I climbed up to the roof of my house and was stunned to see the al-Hadba minaret had gone", Nashwan, a day-laborer who lives near the mosque, said by phone.

More than 800,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since tens of thousands of Iraqi forces on October 17 launched a massive operation to wrest back the country's second city from IS.

The Mosque was named after Muslim leader, Nur al-Din Mahmoud Zangi.

The leaning minaret, covered with elaborate brickwork, was nicknamed "the hunchback". This indicated the beginning of the defeat of the Islamic State militants.

Why would IS blow it up?

In the past three years, ISIS has destroyed numerous cultural heritage sites in Iraq and Syria.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and injured in the fight to retake Mosul, while hundreds of thousands of fled their homes. "It would have been the most symbolic blow within its most symbolic stronghold". She said ISIS has hit the Christian areas around Mosul especially hard. It has already targeted several mosques and tombs, including The Shrine of Yunus.

The IS claimed that American aircraft had destroyed the complex, a claim denied by the US, BBC reported.

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.

Is the battle for Mosul over?

The jihadists appear to have chosen to blow up the mosque rather than see their flag torn down by USA -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.

The area still under IS control is about 2 square kilometres (0.77 square miles) in extent, alongside the western bank of the Tigris river which bisects Mosul.

"After fierce clashes with militants, police managed to rescue the civilians, who the militants had used as human shields", Hassan added, noting that the rescued civilians had since been taken to secure areas.

Assadi remained cautious when asked how much longer the battle might last and said the hardest might be yet to come. In less than two months, at least 23 children have been killed and 123 injured in just that part of the city, it said.

The Islamic State has destroyed an iconic 12th-century mosque in the city of Mosul that was the ideological heart of the terror group and the birthplace of its self-declared caliphate.

As fighting intensified, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi expressed confidence that the "liberation" of the city of Mosul from IS will be announced within days.

(AP Photo, File). FILE - In this Sunday, July 6, 2014 file photo, the gate of the Great Mosque or al-Nuri Mosque is seen in the northern city of Mosul, Iraq.

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