Islamic State militants blew up the Grand al-Nuri Mosque of Mosul

Vastavam web: Islamic State militants on Wednesday blew up the Grand al-Nuri Mosque of Mosul and its famous leaning minaret, an Iraqi military statement said, as Iraqi forces seeking to expel the group from the city closed in on the site.It was from this medieval mosque three years ago that the militants’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a self-styled “caliphate” spanning parts of Syria and Iraq.”We did not strike in that area,” coalition spokesman U.S. Air Force Colonel John Dorrian told Reuters by phone.

“The responsibility of this devastation is laid firmly at the doorstep of ISIS,” said a statement from the commander of the coalition’s ground component, U.S. Army Major General Joseph Martin, using an acronym for Islamic State.”The Daesh (Islamic State) terror gangs committed another historical crime by blowing up the al-Nuri mosque and its historical al-Hadba minaret,” the Iraqi military statement said.The explosions happened as Iraq’s elite Counter Terrorism Service units, which have been battling their way through Mosul’s Old City, got to within 50 meters (164 feet) of the mosque, the Iraqi military statement said.

“This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organization must be annihilated,” said U.S. Major General Martin.The forces on Tuesday had encircled the jihadist group’s stronghold in the Old City, the last district under Islamic State control in Mosul. Al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself “caliph” – or ruler of all Muslims – from the mosque’s pulpit on July 4, 2014, after the insurgents overran vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.