Jihadists have blown up a major historic landmark in the Iraqi city of Mosul. The al-Nuri mosque and its famous leaning minaret now appear to be completely destroyed.
It was from the medieval building that the leader of self-styled Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his so-called “caliphate” spanning party of Syria and Iraq three years ago.
The militants have accused a US aircraft of destroying the mosque.
But Iraqi troops which are part of the operation to retake Mosul and who were within 50 metres have vouched that it was a blast from within that flattened the building.
Together with an international coalition the offensive against Islamic State appears to be in its last stages. Earlier the force’s British commander, Major General Rupert Jones described the militants as desperate.
“It’s (Islamic State) the enemy with no humanity, it’s the enemy who respects nobody, that is more than content to murder civilians in great, great numbers. What I would say is that’s the sign, that’s the evidence of a failing organisation. They are desperate and they are increasingly resorting to desperate measures. They know the end is near.”
The coalition forces have removed Islamic State from all but a pocket of territory in the western half of Mosul, including the Old City, where the militants are expected to make their last stand.
The first image of the Al-Nuri Grand Mosque, completely destroyed. pic.twitter.com/qsObiVFoTb— Mosul Eye عين الموصل (@MosulEye) June 21, 2017