Who destroyed Mosul’s al-Nuri mosque?

ISIS and the United States exchanged accusations over the destruction of Mosul's historic Grand al-Nuri Mosque on June 21. Army Major General Joseph Martin, head of the US-led coalition's combined joint forces land component, called destruction of most of the mosque and its famous leaning minaret "a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq," adding that "responsibility of this devastation is laid firmly at the doorstep of ISIS." However, ISIS claimed in a statement on its Amaq news agency that US aircraft destroyed the mosque. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said blowing up the mosque was "an official declaration of defeat" by ISIS. The ancient landmark with its famous leaning minaret was where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a "caliphate" in 2014. It was from the medieval mosque that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a new "caliphate" three years ago.

The mosque is named after Nuruddin al‑Zanki, a noble who fought in the early Crusades and ruled a domain that covered a large territory in modern-day Turkey, Syria and Iraq. The mosque was built in 1172-3, shortly before his death, and housed an Islamic school. By the time renowned medieval traveler Ibn Battuta visited two centuries later, the minaret was already leaning. Its tilt gave the landmark its popular name—al-Hadba, or the hunchback.

The mosque's destruction comes during the holiest period of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, its final ten days. The night of Laylat ul-Qadr falls during this period, marking when Muslims believe the Koran was revealed to the prophet. (IraqiNews.com, BBC News)