The Islamic State blew up the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul on Wednesday, the Night of Power–the night that according to Islamic tradition, the angel Gabriel revealed the Qur’an to Muhammad.
In 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of ISIS, declared a caliphate from the mosque and flew ISIS’s black flag from its leaning minaret. According to BBC, the mosque, Mosul’s most famous, was first built in 1172, and was named after a famous Jihadist enemy of the Christian crusaders. As a symbol of the Islamic State’s ideology and mission, the mosque’s destruction in the Old City was what Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, called “an official declaration of defeat.”
However, according to BBC, IS supporters say that it will motivate the militants to continue the struggle. The Islamic State claimed that a US airstrike is to blame for the mosque’s destruction–which US officials said to CNN was “1,000 percent false.”
Mosul’s natives expressed sadness over its destruction. Ahmed Saied said, “when I looked out of the window and saw the minaret was no longer there, I felt a part of me had died.” Yasser Ali, 38 years old, called the minaret “Mosul’s symbol and icon.” But continued, “There are people who have been killed. They are much more precious than the minaret.”
Civilians of the Old City have been used as shields by the IS fighters, forced to die with them during conflicts with Iraqi forces. Children are being targeted–according to CNN, ISIS has killed at least 23 children and injured 123 in “less than two months.”
The Iraqi military released a statement on TV Tuesday, saying that civilians of the Old City–about 100,000– were being freed.
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