Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said that the ISIS act of destroying the Great Mosque of Al-Nuri amounts to "an official announcement that they have admitted their defeat" in the eight-month-old battle of Mosul.
The Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Iraq have destroyed the 12th-century Great Mosque of Al-Nuri and the leaning minaret, which has dominated Mosul's skyline for centuries and is pictured on Iraq's 10,000 dinar bank note.
Iraqis military commanders said militants blew the mosque up after troops closed in.
It was the same Mosque from where Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ascended a pulpit and declared the creation of the caliphate in summer 2014 after his fighters took control of Mosul and swept through other parts of northern Iraq and Syria.
ISIS, through its news agency, said US warplanes were responsible for the loss late Wednesday of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its leaning minaret.US officials told that the ISIS claim was "1,000% false," the CNN reported.
The black flag of ISIS had been fluttering over the leaning minaret since June 2014.Now the site has largely been reduced to rubble. The fight to retake the country's second largest city , which has been a key Isis stronghold, was launched more than eight months ago and has displaced more than 8, 50,000 people.
The Iraqi military said "ISIS terrorist gangs" blew up the mosque as they saw Iraqi forces backed by U.S. and British forces were approaching and encircled the fighters in the Old city.
As ISIS is being squeezed into even smaller territory -- a handful of neighborhoods and Mosul's old city, around 100,000 minors remain trapped in an "extremely dangerous" area of Mosul and are being used as human shields and forced to fight on behalf of the latter.
"An estimated 1, 00,000 girls and boys remain in extremely dangerous conditions in the old city and other areas of west Mosul," Hawkins, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Iraq said.