The ancient Great Mosque of al-Nuri in the Old City of western Mosul, an over 800-year-old mosque  that was the site of the declaration of the ISIS caliphate back in 2014, was destroyed today in a sudden explosion, with US and ISIS officials trading blame over what exactly happened.

Fighting was ongoing near the mosque and its famous leaning minaret when suddenly the whole structure came down. ISIS claimed this was the result of a US airstrike, while US and Iraqi government officials insisted ISIS had destroyed the site to prevent it being reclaimed by advancing Iraqi ground troops.

ISIS had been anticipating a huge fight over the mosque for weeks, closing off side streets and positioning fighters in the surrounding blocks in anticipation for a large battle. Iraqi officials had stated their intention to capture the mosque by the end of Ramadan as a major symbolic victory.

The US has denied that they carried out any airstrikes in the area immediately around the mosque, maintaining that it couldn’t possibly have been them that destroyed the site. So far there is no definitive evidence of how the mosque was destroyed, but most seem to be leaning toward the idea that ISIS did it.

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