In 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself the leader of the Islamic State caliphate from a pulpit in the al-Nuri Grand Mosque in Mosul, Iraq. Three years later, that historic mosque, built in the 12th century and distinguished by its leaning minaret, has been destroyed in the battle to retake the heart of Mosul back from ISIS’s control.
The Iraqi and U.S. military have blamed ISIS for the mosque’s destruction. ISIS’s media channel, Amaq, is claiming that an American air strike destroyed the religious site.
Surveillance images confirm its implosion:
The battle for the last slice of Mosul is raging in its Old City. Iraqi forces, bolstered in the air by the U.S.-led coalition, are closing in on ISIS, and according to Reuters, had hoped for victory by the end of this week. The New York Times’ Rukmini Callimachi explained that wresting back control of the mosque would be hugely symbolic for the Iraqi and coalition forces, a a way to declare ISIS in Iraq essentially defeated.
Coalition forces are still investigating what took down the mosque. But what’s certain is another cultural treasure has been destroyed in ISIS’s wake.