The IS (Islamic State) has reportedly blown up the historic Grand al-Nuri mosque in Mosul, and it's famous leaning minaret. Iraqi forces were closing in on the site, where three years ago, the outfit's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a self-styled 'caliphate', comprising parts of Syria and Iraq.
The destruction of the famed al-Nuri mosque and the al-Hadba minaret amounted to an official acknowledgement of defeat by the IS, claimed Iraqi sources. Baghdadi's black flag had flown over this 45-metre leaning minaret, since June, 2014.
The Islamic State's Amaq news agency reported that American aircraft had destroyed the mosque. However, the U.S. led coalition swiftly disclaimed this accusation. U.S. Army Major General Joseph Martin, commander of the coalition's ground component, said that the blame for the destruction of the famed mosque and it's minaret, lay squarely at the doorstep of the ISIS, an acronym used for the outfit.
Reports showed the mosque and minaret flattened amidst the rubble, among the small houses of the Old City. The mosque was destroyed as Iraq's elite CTS (Counter Terrorism Service), battled their way through Mosul's Old City, and were within 50 metres of the site.
Iraqi forces had secretly hoped to retrieve the mosque by the time of Eid al-Fitr, which marked the end of the period of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. The mosque was named after Nuruddin al-Zanki, a noble who fought the early crusaders from a fiefdom that spanned territory, covering modern-day Turkey, Syria and Iraq. It was built in 1172 - 1173, before Nuruddin's death. The mosque was built with seven bands of decorative brickwork in complex geometric patterns, also found in Persia and Central Asia.
The fall of Mosul, would in effect, mark the end of the Iraqi half of the 'caliphate', although the Islamic State would still control south and western parts of the city. Baghdadi has reportedly left the fighting to the local commanders, and is supposedly hiding along the border area between Iraq and Syria.The IS has in totality, destroyed a good part of Muslim religious sites and historical monuments across Iraq and Syria, including churches, shrines and ancient Assyrian and Roman-era sites, in Syria and Iraq.