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Shocking images of al-Nuri devastation

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By Catherine Hardy  with AMAQ, APTN
Shocking images of al-Nuri devastation

<p><span class="caps">ISIL</span> has released footage of what it says are the ruins of the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul.</p> <p>In a statement posted online, the militant group says the iconic mosque and its 840-year-old minaret were destroyed by a US airstrike.</p> <h3><strong>What has the US said?</strong></h3> <p>The US-led coalition leading the battle to retake the Iraqi city has rejected the claim.</p> <p>A coalition spokesperson, US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, has told reporters that coalition aerial surveillance confirmed the mosque was destroyed.</p> <p>However, he said a US airstrike was not the cause.</p> <h3><strong>So who did destroy the mosque?</strong></h3> <p>Iraq’s Ministry of Defence says <span class="caps">ISIL</span> fighters detonated explosives inside the mosque on Wednesday night.</p> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="fr"align="center"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">PM <a href="https://twitter.com/HaiderAlAbadi"><code>HaiderAlAbadi</a> : Destroying Mosul’s al-Nuri Great Mosque is a declaration of defeat by Daesh.</p>— Government of Iraq (</code>IraqiGovt) <a href="https://twitter.com/IraqiGovt/status/877841216070483968">22 juin 2017</a></blockquote><br /> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tweeted on Thursday that the destruction was an admission by the militants that they are losing the fight for Iraq’s second-largest city.</p> <h3><strong>Why is the mosque so important?</strong></h3> <p>It is where <span class="caps">ISIL</span> leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a so-called Islamic caliphate in 2014 shortly after Mosul was overrun by the militants.</p> <h3><strong>How long has the fighting in Mosul been going on?</strong></h3> <p>More than eight months. More than 850,000 people have been displaced.</p> <h3><strong>What they are saying</strong></h3> <p>“We did not conduct strikes in that area at that time,” – <strong>US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon</strong>.</p> <p>“<span class="caps">ISIS</span>’ bombing of the al-Hadba minaret and the al-Nuri mosque is a formal declaration of their defeat,” – <strong>Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi</strong>.</p> <p>“This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq and is an example of why this brutal organisation must be annihilated,” – <strong>US Major General Joseph Martin</strong>, commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq.</p>