UNESCO condemns destruction of iconic mosque, minaret by ISIS in Iraq’s Mosul

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Al Nuree Mosque and its Al Hadba Minaret in Mosul, Iraq. Photo: UNESCO.

The head of the United Nations cultural agency today deplored the destruction of historic religious architecture in Iraq’s Mosul city by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters.

“The Al Hadba Minaret and AlNuree Mosque in Mosul were among the most iconic sites in the city, and stood as a symbol of identity, resilience and belonging,” said Irina Bokova, the Director General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“When Da’esh targeted the mosque and minaret a few months ago, the people of Mosul formed a human chain to protect the site, proving once again that the protection of heritage cannot be delinked from the protection of human lives,” she added.

Located in the Old City area of western Mosul, the Great Mosque of al-Nuree was considered one of the main historical mosques in Iraq. It was originally built by Nureddine Zangi in 1172AD, during the Abbasid Caliphate.

It underwent several renovations and restorations throughout the years. Its outstanding iconic feature was the leaning minaret known as al-Hadba (the hunchback), which had retained its authentic architectural and structural features for hundreds of years.

“This new destruction deepens the wounds of a society already affected by an unprecedented humanitarian tragedy, with three million internally displaced persons and 6.2 million in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. This calls for immediate and strengthened international mobilization,” said the Director-General.

Since the Iraqi Government’s launch of an offensive to oust ISIL from Mosul in October 2016, around 750,000 to 800,000 people have been displaced from the city. Many are trapped or being used as human shields.

“Despite all odds, the spirit of resilience embodied by al-Hadba must prevail and UNESCO will continue to stand by the people of Iraq to regain their heritage and fight back against all forms of extremism and violence through culture, education and human rights,” Ms. Bokova declared.

Historic mosque Under Attack 

The government of Iraq announced the destruction of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in western Mosul by ISIS terrorists on Wednesday, June 21.

The US-led coalition condemned the destruction of the iconic mosque.

“The mosque was well known as the place where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his infamous speech July 4, 2014. The mosque had stood in Mosul for over eight centuries, and its famous leaning minaret earned the city of Mosul the nickname “the hunchback.”,” the US-led coalition against ISIS said on Wednesday.

“The Coalition is working by, with, and through the government of Iraq to defeat ISIS in Mosul and throughout Iraq.”

The international coalition added that it contributes to the defeat of ISIS by providing the Iraqi forces with equipment, training, intelligence and surveillance, precision fire support and military advice to leaders. “The Coalition has enabled the Iraqi Security Forces to reclaim over 47,000 square kilometers of their land from ISIS for the people of Iraq,” it said.

“As our Iraqi Security Force partners closed in on the al-Nuri mosque, ISIS destroyed one of Mosul and Iraq’s great treasures,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin, Commanding General of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command-Operation Inherent Resolve.

“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 Martin.

“The responsibility of this devastation is laid firmly at the doorstep of ISIS, and we continue to support our Iraqi partners as they bring these terrorists to justice.  However, the battle for the liberation of Mosul is not yet complete, and we remain focused on supporting the ISF with that objective in mind.”

“CJFLCC-OIR is the ground forces command in Iraq that supports the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve’s ongoing multi-national Coalition mission to defeat ISIS in Iraq,” the coalition said.

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